Materialist hermeneutics, textuality and the history of geography: print spaces in British geography, c.1500–1900

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Abstract

This essay canvasses a range of recent work in literary studies and the history of science advocating a ‘materialist hermeneutic’, an approach to the study of texts which takes seriously their printed format as a bearer of expressive meaning. The essay goes on to show the role of such a hermeneutic in revising our narratives of the history of geographical thought by looking at the print format of British geography books in the era 1500–1900. It is argued that the age of discovery created a ‘problem situation’ for geographical knowledge which was solved by the geographical grammar, this solution only collapsing with the closing of the world in the late-nineteenth century. It is further shown that the so-called ‘new’ geography of the late-nineteenth century developed a radically different print space for geography. The print spaces of early modern and new geography are shown to have been key determinants of the social and intellectual positioning of geography as a scholarly enterprise.
Translated title of the contributionMaterialist hermeneutics, textuality and the history of geography: print spaces in British geography, c.1500–1900
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)466 - 488
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Historical Geography
Volume33 (3)
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2007

Bibliographical note

Publisher: Elsevier
Other identifier: 1095-8614

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