Spirits of Place in American Literary Culture

  • Engels
  • Hardcover
  • 9780190646547
  • augustus 2018
  • 296 pagina's
Alle productspecificaties


What might it mean, existentially and spiritually, for humans to form an intimate relation with particular sites or dwelling places on earth? In ancient Rome, the notion of a locale's genius loci signaled recognition of its enchanted, enspirited identity. But in a digitalized America of unprecedented mobility can place still matter as seed ground for the soul? Such questions have been broached by ecocritics concerned with how place-inflected experience figures in literature, and by theologians concerned with ecotheology and ecospirituality. This book offers a uniquely integrative perspective, informed by a theological phenomenology of place that takes fuller account of the spiritualities associated with built environments than ecocriticism typically does. Spirits of Place blends theological and cultural analysis with personal reflection, while focusing on the multi-layered witness presented by American literature. John Gatta's interpretive readings range across texts by an array of canonical as well as lesser-known writers. Along the way, it addresses such themes as the religious implications of localism vs. globalism; the diverse spiritualities associated with long-term residency, resettlement, and pilgrimage; why some sites seem more hallowed than others; and how the creative spirit of Imagination figures in place-identified perceptions of the numinous. Whether in Christian or other religious terms, no discrete place matters absolutely. Yet this study demonstrates how and why hallowed geography and the sacramentality of place have mattered throughout our cultural history.


John Gatta's new book is a thoughtful and learned exposition of the power of place and setting in American literature, by a critic and scholar at the height of his own powers. In his wonderful and reader-friendly accounts of writers with an intense imaginative focus on nature and setting, Gatta's analysis presents the multiple meanings of sacred space in American culture. I highly recommend this volume to all readers interested in the beauty and wonder evoked by great poems, stories, memoirs, and even such cultural sites as monuments, battlegrounds, and burial sites. * Harold K. Bush, author of The Hemingway Files & Continuing Bonds with the Dead: Parental Grief and Nineteenth-Century American Authors * In a time when the fate of all the places of Earth comes within the orbit of human power and influence-our Anthropocene epoch-we need scholars who can marshal literary and theological traditions for the work of imagining a future, flourishing world. Gatta is ideally positioned to lead us in this work. This book educates, delights, and inspires. It will help you rethink your place as worthy of attention, study, and care. * Norman Wirzba, Duke University * John Gatta's luminous book offers us a rewarding consideration of place in the finest writers in the American literary tradition-a garden of varied delights, sweet and pungent and sacred. But Gatta does not stop at analysis. He also traces a path of pilgrimage, and includes a chapter showing how education can include the work of place-making. The land has become ours; now we must learn to become the land's. * Wilfred M. McClay, G.T. and Libby Blankenship Chair in the History of Liberty, University of Oklahoma * Gatta provides rich detail about a first-year program at Sewanee called Find Your Place, which he uses as an example of what [it might] look like to make place-making-in its fullest intellectual, existential, and social context-a deliberate goal of higher education. Summing up: Recommended * CHOICE *



augustus 2018
Aantal pagina's
296 pagina's
Met illustraties


John Gatta
Oxford University Press Inc



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