Jia Zhao


Since the 1970s, French geographers' studies of literature have heralded the rise of geographical approaches to literature in France, paving the way for the later schools of “geographical criticism” and “geographic poetics”. This article takes French geographers' research on literature as an example, in order to reveal the value of literature in geographical research. The first value lies in its function of witnessing. Writers' geographical description and their perception of the social structure of a region provide references for geographers. Some geographers believe that the value of literature lies not in the accuracy of description, but in the writer's ability to capture the characteristic of a region. There are also geographers who justify fiction, arguing that it is only in dreams and the unconscious that the psychological archetypes of a geographical reality emerge. Secondly, geographers pay attention to literary discourse, and reveal geographical characteristics of literary narrative and language, which, by imitating geography, present the same structures and forms as the latter. Finally, through literature, geographers reflect on geographical discourse and search the possible “literariness” of geography. The interest in “literariness” shows the self-reflection of geography in its process of scientification. Literature brings geography back to people and daily life, bridging the gap between geography and the public.


French geography, literary discourse, function of witnessing, literariness of geography

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