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Authority and vision

John McGahern is one of those writers whose work continues to be appreciated across a range of readerships. As a writer who eschewed the notion of himself as 'artist' he addressed his task through a commitment to style, what he called the 'revelation of the personality through language'. McGahern's work began to receive critical attention only from when Denis Sampson's seminal study, Outstaring Nature's Eye: The Fiction of John McGahern was published in 1993. This book focuses on the physical landscape to show how the inadequacy of the State that emerged after 1922 is reflected in the characters' shifting relationship with the landscape, the connection has been made vulnerable through trauma and painful memory. It explores this sense of resentment and disillusionment in McGahern's novels, drawing parallels between the revolutionary memories and McGahern's own family experience. McGahern's All Over Ireland offers a number of fine stories, mostly set in Ireland, and dealing with distinctly Irish themes. He wrote a novel that is an example of openness, compassion and understanding for any form of strangeness. The vision of education and of the shaping of identity found in his writing is not an idiosyncratic one - it is consistent with much of the best thought within the tradition of liberal education. The book provides an intriguing comparison between McGahern and Flannery O'Connor, illustrating how diverse stories share an underlying current of brutality, demonstrating their respective authors' preoccupation with a human propensity towards evil.

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Mateja Celestina

tomatoes have had their leaves taken off, and blackberries have been pruned to control their growth –​are contrasted to plots that are mostly grown over. Such displays reflect the relationship people have with their land. Beyond the visual, physical landscapes are incorporated in people’s everyday activities; they therefore crucially influence people’s belonging. For peasants, who have strong ties to the land, physical environment is of particular significance. The environment provides not only shelter but also economic subsistence and the basis for their campesino

in Living displacement
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Gardens, religious tradition and ecoGothic exegesis in Algernon Blackwood’s ‘The Lost Valley’ and ‘The Transfer’
Christopher M. Scott

Throughout his short stories, Algernon Blackwood forms physical landscapes that frequently feature religious iconography. In his autobiographical Episodes Before Thirty ( 1923 ), Blackwood admits that at one stage of his life he considered himself Buddhist, albeit an esoteric one, yet this acknowledgement obfuscates a much larger picture. Blackwood never subscribed to any religious creed or dogma. Over the years, he wove a spiritual tapestry thread by thread, replacing and supplementing his faith as he went along. The terrestrial landscape

in EcoGothic gardens in the long nineteenth century
Mateja Celestina

-​impacts of location (Agnew 1987), I first look at some economic, social and political factors that influenced the making and unmaking of Urabá. I present the context within which people’s subjective experiences of place, their biographies and the conflict developed. I then discuss some of the reasons why people persisted in the region despite violence before I turn to the analysis of Urabá of displacement. I explore how conflict and violence transformed people’s social, physical and cognitive landscapes. Physical landscapes refer to the natural and built environment

in Living displacement
Ecosystem health and the punk poetry of John Cooper Clarke
John Parham

, the demolition of housing and pubs was often marked by an ‘old-fashioned street party’.38 What one can glean, then, from local history accounts in this period is an ongoing narrative of environmental injustice. The central insight of environmental injustice is that while the degradation of the physical landscape runs parallel to that of the built environment, more fundamentally, material, metabolic processes connect human with nonhuman. In any conception of environmental injustice, key signifiers therefore will be the physical environment, the built environment

in Fight back
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Lindsay J. Proudfoot and Dianne P. Hall

were common to all. Whether these indigenous encounters invoked cautious co-operation or outright hostility depended upon the individual’s circumstance and experience and their subjective construction of the other. Similarly, each squatter’s engagement with the physical landscape depended upon cognitive behaviour and environmental learning that were equally subjective. For some, runs and homesteads

in Imperial spaces
If walls could talk

Northern Ireland is regarded as one of the most successful 'post conflict' societies in the world. The reimaging of Belfast as a 'post conflict' city tends to gloss over these persistent divisions. This book provides a thought provoking and comprehensive account of teenagers' perceptions and experiences of the physical and symbolic divisions that exist in 'post conflict' Belfast. Despite Northern Ireland's new status as one of the most successful examples of the resolution of what was once seen as an intractable conflict, the peace walls which separate Protestant and Catholic areas remain in place. The book examines the micro-geographies of young people and draws attention to the social practices, discourses and networks that directly or indirectly (re)shape how they make sense of and negotiate life in Belfast. It focuses is on the physical landscape enclosing interface areas and the impact that it has on the perceptions and actions of young people living in these areas. The book explores how physical divisions are perceived and experienced by young people who live in interface areas and how they view the architecture of division. It pays attention to the impact of place on teenagers' social relations within and between the localities in which they reside. The city centre of Belfast epitomises the city's status as a 'post conflict' city. A recurring argument is that identity does not exist 'out there'. The book shows how social relationships are inherently spatial and how identities are influenced by place and impact on it.

Dylan Foster Evans

This chapter examines cultural responses to roads in medieval Wales and shows that there is a growing body of evidence that roads were constructed in medieval Wales before the Edwardian conquest, despite a popular belief that roads in pre-modern Wales are scarcely worthy of note. It is argued on the basis of a variety of Welsh-language texts that roads played a significant part in the construction of identity in medieval Wales. The texts examined including native tales, the laws of Hywel Dda, and pre- and post-conquest poetry, including that of Dafydd ap Gwilym. It is argued that the road-building undertaken by Edward I’s armies resulted not only in a changed physical landscape but also in poetic reimaginings of the relationship between the Welsh community and its environment.

in Roadworks
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Something rich and strange

Manchester: Something rich and strange challenges us to see the quintessential post-industrial city in new ways. Bringing together twenty-three diverse writers and a wide range of photographs of Greater Manchester, it argues that how we see the city can have a powerful effect on its future – an urgent question given how quickly the urban core is being transformed. The book uses sixty different words to speak about the diversity of what we think of as Manchester – whether the chimneys of its old mills, the cobbles mostly hidden under the tarmac, the passages between terraces, or the everyday act of washing clothes in a laundrette. Unashamedly down to earth in its focus, this book makes the case for a renewed imaginative relationship that recognises and champions the fact that we’re all active in the making and unmaking of urban spaces.

Author: Laura Varnam

The church as sacred space places the reader at the heart of medieval religious life, standing inside the church with the medieval laity in order to ask what the church meant to them and why. It examines the church as a building, idea, and community, and explores the ways in which the sanctity of the church was crucial to its place at the centre of lay devotion and parish life. At a time when the parish church was facing competition for lay attention, and dissenting movements such as Lollardy were challenging the relevance of the material church, the book examines what was at stake in discussions of sanctity and its manifestations. Exploring a range of Middle English literature alongside liturgy, architecture, and material culture, the book explores the ways in which the sanctity of the church was constructed and maintained for the edification of the laity. Drawing on a wide range of contemporary theoretical approaches, the book offers a reading of the church as continually produced and negotiated by the rituals, performances, and practices of its lay communities, who were constantly being asked to attend to its material form, visual decorations, and significance. The meaning of the church was a dominant question in late-medieval religious culture and this book provides an invaluable context for students and academics working on lay religious experience and canonical Middle English texts.