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Silence and the Silenced

Interdisciplinary Perspectives


Edited By Leslie Boldt, Corrado Federici and Ernesto Virgulti

Silence and the Silenced: Interdisciplinary Perspectives comprises a collection of essays from North American and European scholars who examine the various ways in which the theme of silence is developed in literary narratives as well as in such visual media as photography, film, painting, and architecture. The questions of silence and the presence or absence of voice are also explored in the arena of performance, with examples relating to pantomime and live installations. As the book title indicates, two fundamental aspects of silence are investigated: silence freely chosen as a means to deepen meditation and inner reflection and silence that is imposed by external agents through various forms of political repression and censorship or, conversely, by the self in an attempt to express revolt or to camouflage shame. The approaches to these questions range from the philosophical and the psychological to the rhetorical and the linguistic. Together, these insightful reflections reveal the complexity and profundity that surround the function of silence and voice in an aesthetic and social context.


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Part II. Political and Cultural Silencing


5. Cartographic Silences in Brian Friel’s Translations Matthew Dwight Moore The psychosocial spatial process commonly known as cognitive mapping appears to be largely innate to our species. Of course, evidence of way- finding behavior, such as identifying landmarks and retro-navigating, is found in many animals, namely in migratory birds, fish, and mammals, not to mention many insects such as butterflies, bees, and ants. To be sure, even plants that grow in the direction of the sun can be said to be way-finding creatures on a certain level. Unlike any other species, however, people make maps. Humans typically “think” spatially as well. And this spatial thinking is imprinted by our own subjective experiences as individuals and members of culture. On the one hand, mental maps that purport to represent a version of the external physical world are accurate in that they do just that. They represent the basic composition and arrangement of shapes, figures, and other visual symbols in order to refer meaningfully to a portion of the world. They are inaccurate for at least three reasons: 1) the map-maker’s limited expressive abilities, 2) the exclusion of information that is intrinsic to any map-making venture, and 3) the invalidation of subjugated knowledge resulting from the legitimation of epistemological hierarchies. Perhaps the most obvious inac- curacy of mental maps is due to the technical or artistic inability of the map- maker to realize fully what they may imagine or remember. Insofar as these mental maps exclude information in order to fit the...

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