ARCHITECTURAL LITERARY STUDIES
This is a proposition for an approach in literary studies which focuses on space analysis pursued with a different objective in mind than so far. It draws from the existing analytical propositions (text interpretation, space semiotics, elements of literary theory, and scholarly editing) and from Bertand Westphal’s geocriticism, the elements of which are used and developed under the banner of a different motivation. For this approach is not connected with an analysis of literary space or literary representation of actual space, but with an analysis of (broadly understood) textual testimonies regarding the space examined. Taking into consideration the achievements made so far, this approach attempts to respond to the social needs signaled by architects and urban planners who take up the issue of the commercialization of project initiatives and the lack of local zoning plans and top-down guidelines, and, first and foremost, emphasize the need for scholarly reflection, including humanistic reflection, to accompany architectural actions. Basing on the textual testimonies to the functioning of the society in a specific space, the idea of architectural literary studies offers literature specialist and cultural tools for the purpose of conducting an analysis useful to urban planners and architects and preceding the project initiatives regarding revitalization or urban development of a given place. The objective is for it to constitute one of the approaches of the representatives cooperating within the framework of the transdisciplinary team which examines the place subject to transformation.
Thus it proposes moving on to the next stage of the evolution of the methods where:
1) traditional literary studies are devoted to space as an element of the world depicted in a literary work;
2) geocriticism encompasses an analysis of the literary representation of actual space (the researcher’s interdisciplinariness is important);
3) architectural literary studies draw from two previous approaches but the work performed has a totally different objective — a social one. Importantly, the text’s dynamic is taken into consideration and the literary theory (the importance of language and perspective) is used in works no longer focused on the literary work, but on all kinds of textual records regarding space.
It is a move away from the sphere of theoretical reflections and a pursuit of an actual influence on transformation of reality and, importantly, a response to the current social problems (the problem of developing specific semantically rich places). In the proposed approach a transdisciplinary team of researchers is formed to make urban planning decisions, where a significant role is played by literary and cultural scholars who determine important characteristics of the space researched basing on textual records.
Thus the architectural literary studies belong to the current of the engaged humanities. Important here is the use of the literary scholar’s skills and tools and also of ‘literary cognitive models’ in the process of analyzing the actual space, which makes it possible to notice issues overseen during work focused on technical aspects, style denominators, or even the place’s function. The emphasis is to a large extent laid on the issue of the interrelation between the bios and the logos, for in the analysis of the relations between space and society important is an additional element of that system, that is, the experience of space. It is important to analyze the representation and to transgress its borders for the benefit of interpreting that experience. The textual materials (put through the indispensable research filter) constitute a medium between the past and the present.
ARCHITECTURAL LITERARY STUDIES