On writing portable place: George Eliot’s mobile Midlands

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This article draws on work by Peter Adey, Peter Merriman, Kevin Hannam and others to counter a significant body of literary criticism that suggests nineteenth-century fiction is invested in representing place as static. In nineteenth-century Britain, realist fictions of provincial life were often cast – then and now – as nostalgic places, miniaturized and immobile. In a case study of the nineteenth-century realist writer George Eliot this article argues, by contrast, that her seemingly static depictions of provincial life disclose a pattern of micro-mobilities within the local. Eliot’s works unravel the idea that mobilities and moorings are oppositional, and disclose a concern with an embodied practice of dynamic place making through pedestrian practices and tactile labour. Eliot’s fiction offers up a sense of place that is portable, providing frictionless mobility for readers. Her writings also problematize nostalgic ideas of home and return by highlighting the patterns of movement, rest, and encounter that make being-in-place a dynamic process.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)559-571
Number of pages13
Issue number4
Early online date19 Jun 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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