Week 1 Overview

Week One: Understanding Space and Place in the Humanities (July 24-28)

The first week of the program will provide participants with a foundational understanding of space and place within academic fields of study. During this week we will:

  1. define space and place from various perspectives,
  2. identify key subtopics shared by participants and faculty (such as “place and memory” or “writing and picturing place in a globalized world”), and
  3. establish why space and place matter to humanists at this particular juncture.

We will explore the genealogy of ideas of space and place, including the ways they have been conceptualized in the philosophies and theories of Plato, Aristotle, Kant, Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, Lefebvre and Deleuze and Guatarri and in contemporary theory from feminist and post-colonial perspectives, including Iris Marion Young, Elizabeth Grosz, Katherine McKittrick, and Derek Gregory.

Monday, July 24, 2017

The introductory session on Monday will explore the reasons for participants’ attending the Institute and their various understandings of the role of space and place in their work as well as outlining the structure and goals of the institute. During lunch, participants will be welcomed by Dean Uta Poiger of the College of Social Sciences and the Humanities. In the afternoon we will begin with an introductory session on Space and Place led by Co-Director Tim Cresswell.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

On Tuesday we will outline the various definitions of space and place and what differentiates one from the other. This exploration will include discussion of the various forms of space in spatial thought, including absolute, relative, and relational conceptions of space, as well as an exploration of various conceptions of place as location, locale, and sense of place. In the morning, we will discuss issues of Race and Space with Nicholas Brown and Khury Petersen-Smith. In the afternoon we will go on a guided walk of the Beacon Hill district of Boston – the Black Heritage Trail offered by Boston’s Museum of African American History. In the evening, we will watch the movie Prison in Twelve Landscapes. 

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

On Wednesday, under the leadership of visiting lecturer Bruce Janz, we will explore philosophies of place. The approach we will take here will be to pair classical authors on place with some contemporary figures who might help to rehabilitate them. The purpose of this section will be to bring the classical authors (such as Plato and Kant) into a contemporary space (inhabited by the likes of Deleuze and Irigaray), to help see their relevance to current debates about the nature of place and space. The afternoon workshop will focus on creating a geohumanities project. In the evening, we will host a group picnic dinner at the Shattuck Picnic Area in Franklin Park. See the syllabus for more information on the event.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

This discussion will continue on Thursday with an exploration of critical conceptions of space and place in the work of feminist and post-colonial scholars. The focus here will be on the role of space and place in the exercise of power. The afternoon workshop will focus on creating a geohumanities syllabus. In the evening, we will also watch and discuss the movie Robinson in Space by Patrick Keiller, which explores the recent history of London with reference to theories of space.

Friday, July 28, 2017

On Friday we will explore the themes of space and place through a guided tour of Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts tracing the evolution of representations of space, place, landscape, and the cartographic relating this evolution to historical and geographical contexts (see http://educators.mfa.org/classrooms/space-and-place-landscape-407606/space-and-place-landscape-407446 for a taster). Summer Institute participants will then meet individually with program directors and participating faculty members.