1st October 2020
FLUL Room 5.2
(Università degli Studi di Parma)
FORGING GEOTHEMATICS: WAYS FOR THE CARTOGRAPHIC NOVEL
In dialogue with the domain of Comparative Studies, the vast field of spatial approaches to literature, overarched in the present by Bertrand Westphal’s idea of ‘geocriticism’, can be further widened by recurring to an in-depth analysis of specific ‘geothemes’, i.e. spatial themes, components of geographic discourse. Nowadays, along with such telling interpretive tools as territory or boundaries, maps, following deconstructive and decolonializing theories, are to be read as providing a manifold verbal-visual commentary on a character’s as well as an author’s view of the world. At the crossroads of genre and theme, contemporary cartographic novels (Pynchon, Kehlmann, Edward Carey, Giacopini, among others) inherit the Modernist and late-Modernist penchant for maps, as crystallized, fascinating signs of knowledge (Conrad’s Heart of Darkness; Borges’ and Calvino’s inventive cartographies), aiming to disclose their full power of suggestion in unprecedented ways, involving the rewriting of History or the inscription of bodily surfaces, and yet raising persistent ironic questions on their pretension to serve as a model of the world.