Empty Spaces: perspectives on emptiness in modern history

Perspectives on emptiness in modern history
Edited by Courtney J. Campbell, Allegra Giovine, and Jennifer Keating
2 September 2019
245 × 163 mm
226 pp
Hardback: 978-1-909646-49-0
PDF: 978-1-909646-52-0

How is emptiness made and what historical purpose does it serve? What cultural, material and natural work goes into maintaining ‘nothingness’? Why have a variety of historical actors, from colonial powers to artists and urban dwellers, sought to construct, control and maintain (physically and discursively) empty space, and by which processes is emptiness discovered, visualised and reimagined?

This volume draws together contributions from authors working on landscapes and rurality, along with national and imperial narratives, from Brazil to Russia and Ireland. It considers the visual, including the art of Edward Hopper and the work of the British Empire Marketing Board, while concluding with a section that examines constructions of emptiness in relation to capitalism, development and the (re)appropriation of urban space. In doing so, it foregrounds the importance of emptiness as a productive prism through which to interrogate a variety of imperial, national, cultural and urban history.

Table of contents: 
Introduction: Confronting emptiness in history 
Courtney J. Campbell, Allegra Giovine and Jennifer Keating
1. ‘Take my advice, go to Mongan’s Hotel’: barrenness and abundance in the late Victorian Connemara landscape 
Kevin J. James
2. Amid the horrors of nature: ‘dead’ environments at the margins of the Russian empire
Jennifer Keating
3. Empty spaces, aviation and the Brazilian nation: the metaphor of conquest in narratives of Edu Chaves’s cross-country flights in 1912 
Leonie Schuster
4. Looking over the ship railings: the colonial voyage and the empty ocean in Empire Marketing Board posters 
Tricia Cusack
5. Spectral figures: Edward Hopper’s empty Paris
Emily C. Burns
6. Landscapes of loss: the semantics of empty spaces in contemporary post-apocalyptic fiction
Martin Walter
7. Surveying the creative use of vacant space in London, c.1945–95 
Krystallia Kamvasinou and Sarah Ann Milne
8. Urban prehistoric enclosures: empty spaces/busy places 
Kenneth Brophy