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'“A strange enough region wherein to wander and muse": Mapping Clerkenwell in Victorian Popular Fictions'

Vuohelainen, M. ORCID: 0000-0002-9369-8190 (2019). '“A strange enough region wherein to wander and muse": Mapping Clerkenwell in Victorian Popular Fictions'. Victorian Popular Fictions Journal, 1(2), pp. 3-32. doi: 10.46911/qptd4864


Drawing on the work of Bertrand Westphal, this essay attempts to perform a geocritical reading of the London district of Clerkenwell. After discussing the spatial turn in the Humanities and introducing a range of spatial critical approaches, the essay “maps” literary Clerkenwell from the perspectives of genre hybridity and intertextuality, spatially articulate cartography, multifocal and historically aware public perception and potentially transgressive connection to outside areas. Clerkenwell is seen to have stimulated a range of genre fiction, including Newgate, realist, penny and slum fiction, and social exploration journalism. In much of this writing, the district was defined by its negative associations with crime, poverty, incarceration and slaughter. Such negative imageability, the essay suggests, was self-perpetuating, since authors would be influenced by their reading to create literary worlds repeating existing tropes; these literary representations, in turn, influenced readers’ perceptions of the area.Intertextual, multi-layered and polysensorial geocritical readings,the essay concludes, can producepowerful andnuanced pictures of literary placesbut also face a formidable challenge in defining an adequate geocentric corpus.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Publisher Keywords: spatial turn; spatial literary studies; cartography; mapping; geocriticism; imageability; genre; Clerkenwell; Victorian popular fiction.
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GA Mathematical geography. Cartography
P Language and Literature > PR English literature
Departments: School of Communication & Creativity > Media, Culture & Creative Industries > English, Publishing & Creative Writing
SWORD Depositor:
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