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Journeys in the Songscape: Space and the Song of Songs


Directly challenging recent methodological trends in biblical spatial studies, Journeys in the Songscape uses a range of innovative critical tools to explore, map and critique poetic space in the Song of Songs.

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The poetic world of the Song of Songs is a famously heady and distortive landscape, filled with bright sunlit rills, nocturnal cityscapes, and fecund bodies laid out like kingdoms. But what does the Song’s use and abuse of spatial relationships tell us about its subject matter, and what do its strange panoramas tell us about literary space more broadly? Directly challenging recent methodological trends in biblical spatial studies, Journeys in the Songscape uses a range of innovative critical tools to explore, map and critique poetic space in the Song of Songs.

Taking the reader on a series of journeys across the Song’s gendered, rural, urban and bodily spaces, Meredith argues that the worlds that spring up between the Song’s lovers are all subtle reimaginings of the space between the biblical page and its own readers, and that at the heart of the Song is a (con)fusion of the dynamics of loving with the experience of reading. Love is at work in the Song, says Meredith, but it is not its subject so much as a sign under which collusions of power, textuality, space and subjectivity labour. The Song’s world speaks not only to sexual relationships, then, but to the structure of language itself; textual spaces do not organize textual meaning but rather image its fundamental instability.

Journeys in the Songscape is a bold new literary treatment of the Song of Songs, but it is also a rethinking of what we mean by the term ‘literary space’, and represents a playful incitement to reconsider how critical tools are put to use in apprehending space as a literary construct.

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Table of Contents

1. Towards a Cartography of Reading
Notes in the Margins of Maps
Theorists Abroad: Lefebvre and Soja
Other Cartographies
Exploring Text and Con-Text with Derrida
Worlds of Meaning in Benjamin’s Labyrinth
Advice for the Traveller

2. Undreaming the Song’s World:
On Inhabiting a Phantasm
Holey Ground
Rude Awakenings, or, The D-Wor(l)d
Sharing the ‘Bath of Madness’
Benjamin’s Critical Phantoscope
On the Scrim: Fluid Continuity in the Song?
Behind the Scrim: The Song’s ‘Space of Two’
Conjuring Tricks: Turning Sex into Discourse
Turning Lovers into Poets
Turning Readers into Phantasmagorians
Turning the Page, Making the Bed

3. Locked Gardens and the City as Labyrinth
The Green Green Grass of Biblical Academe
Painting the Roses Red: Gardens as Power
‘One Man’s Woman’s Dominion is…’
The Song’s Garden Revisited
Gardening as Vajazzling: The Horticulture of ‘Her’
The City as Labyrinth: On Not-Reading the City
Sex and the City
Opacity and Transparenc(it)y
DistURBing, duplicAtiNg
Freud and the Labyrinthine City
The City in the Garden in the City

4. Gender, Space and Threshold Magic
The Line that is not One
Gendered Space and Irigaray
Rose and Paradoxical Geography
The Woman and the Window
The Man in the Mirror
Doorstep Sex
Doors as Scrims
Derrida’s Hymen
The Elusive Line

5. The Corpus without Organs
(Can Be Used as a Surrealist Kingdom)
Well-sung Bodies
Some Assembly Required
Positing a Prior Body
The Lover in the Song is Mae West
Becoming Body
Sediment as Syntax: The Body without Organs
Flashes of Tellurian Flesh
Measuring Territories and Deterritorializations
Lodged ‘in’ a Boundless Text
‘The Patient Labyrinth of Lines Traces….’

Conclusion:The Songscape, A Task of Reading


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Book information

Christopher Meredith
List Price
£60 / $95 / €70
Hebrew Bible Monographs, 53
Scholars' Price
£30 / $47.50 / €35
ISBN 13 hardback
Paperback price
£20 / $24.50 / €22.50
ISBN 13 Paperback
Hardback / Paperback
Page Extent
xi + 202
Publication Date
September 2017
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