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date: 31 May 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Examining the literary construction of place in Charles Brockden Brown’s fiction and nonfiction, this chapter argues that the author’s spatial imagination was representative of eighteenth-century geographical thought while also anticipating new humanist theories of cultural geography. Be they cityscapes or desert wilderness, architectural structures or complex spatial systems, Brown’s settings reveal geographic writing protocols and theories of representation that in turn served as creative venues for contemplating political doctrines of territoriality; Enlightenment fantasies of fixed spaces in an age of globalization and landscape aesthetics; and new geographic sensibilities linking the human body to the sensory experience of space and the spatial feeling of emplacement. By recovering Brown’s lifelong enthusiasm for the science of geography, the chapter concludes that in the course of his literary career, Brown not only repudiated writing fiction in favor of textbook geography but preferred geographic over literary authorship.

Keywords: Charles Brockden Brown, science of geography, literary geography, sensory geography, spatial imagination, mapping, setting, land surveys, picaresque, hemispheric imagination

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