Literary cartographies: the co-production of page and place.
Sponsored by Social and Cultural Geography Research Group RGS-IBG AC2014

This session invites papers that investigate the ways in which geographies of
fiction co-produce the real and imagined places around us. As Piatti et al
observe, geography is essential to fiction, it is “impossible to even think of
literature without any spatial context” (2008:4); however, the co-productive
relationship between real places and literary stories is complex. In some
cases, fiction intersects directly with real world cartographies. Narratives
can be based in specific countries, regions, and towns, so much so that we can
visit them in person and follow our characters’ footsteps with our own. This
direct coincidence of fictional and geographical space can be seen in examples
such as Hardy’s Wessex, Kerouac’s California, or Auster’s New York. In other
fictions, real geographies are moulded, with distances reduced, streets folded
and landmarks crumpled together. In this way, (brave) new worlds are invented
in the author’s and readers’ imagination. In the same way as some authors
invent ‘counterfactual histories’ (see Piatti and Hurni, 2009), these
re-workings may be conceived of as ‘counterfactual geographies’. However, as
this session explores, any claim to a clear and reliable reality is often
difficult to maintain in the realm of literature and geography. Thus, in the
words of Piatti and Hurni, stories can be rooted directly in the “physically
comprehensible world”, or exist in their own “rich geographical layer” above
it. These complex and fascinating relations combine to produce the “geography
of fiction” (Piatti & Hurni, 2011:218).

This session invites papers which explore the ways through which page and place
are co-produced in reading and writing practice. Secondly, it offers a
supplementary walking tour, based around a relevant piece of literature, which
offer a ‘novel’ means through which to experience the co-production of page and

Session Convenors:
Dr Jon Anderson, School of Planning & Geography, Cardiff University. Email:
Dr Angharad Saunders, University of South Wales. Email: