"Created Space" Mapping America as poem in Gary Snyder's Mountains and Rivers Without End and Susan Howe's Secret History of the Dividing Line

Selby, Nick (2005) "Created Space" Mapping America as poem in Gary Snyder's Mountains and Rivers Without End and Susan Howe's Secret History of the Dividing Line. Journal of American Studies, 39 (01). pp. 41-64. ISSN 1469-5154

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Abstract

Maps, recent cultural geographers are fond of reminding us, are products of the specific ideology from which they are written. A proper reading of a map, one that attends to it as a cultural product, can discover – even deconstruct – the ideological and cultural assumptions upon which its act of mapping is grounded. For Stephen Daniels and Denis Cosgrove, the metaphor of the map provides a crucially important analytic tool for disentangling the ways in which systems of power may be seen to work within – and through – a text. They note that, under the influence of post-structuralist theory, it has become commonplace to think of a text as a “discursive ‘terrain’ across which ‘sites’ of power may be ‘mapped’.” Clearly, then, cartographic metaphors are useful in discussing literary texts in that they can accommodate an examination of both the overt and covert operations of those texts in their representations of the cultural and ideological landscape from which they are produced. Indeed, to map the world is to make that world readable, to make it familiar; but, like any text – or, in the particular case of this essay, Gary Snyder's poetic sequence Mountains and Rivers Without End (1996) – a map does more than simply describe a discursive terrain. Such descriptions also enact the conditions of their cultural production.

Item Type: Article
Faculty \ School: University of East Anglia > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Research Groups > American Studies
Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Art, Media and American Studies
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Depositing User: EPrints Services
Date Deposited: 01 Oct 2010 13:55
Last Modified: 24 Jul 2019 16:14
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/8500
DOI: 10.1017/S0021875805009242

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