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Contemporary Writing and the Politics of Space

Borders, Networks, Escape Lines


Edited By David Walton and Juan Antonio Suárez

This collective volume explores questions of space in contemporary literary texts from a range of theoretical perspectives. In addition to mapping the «spatial turn» in literary and cultural studies, this volume also brings together studies that apply spatial theory to the analysis of literary texts. Contributors tackle a broad range of themes, including how prose fiction addresses spaces of intimacy, abjection, espionage, discipline, madness, post-human identities, post-communist cities, the architecture of dystopia, and coercive medical practices. In turn, these themes open up analysis to key areas within contemporary literary and cultural criticism, including the study of sexuality, politics, power, and identity; the configuration of urban, regional, and national spaces and borders; and the delineation of private and public domains. The contributors reflect on diverse authors from English-speaking cultures and focus on a variety of genres and periods while acknowledging recent research in space studies and offering original contributions to what has now become a thriving field.

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1 Coercive Hospital Spaces in Pat Barker’s The Regeneration Trilogy (David Griffiths)


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1    Coercive Hospital Spaces in Pat Barker’s The Regeneration Trilogy


Pat Barker’s depiction in The Regeneration Trilogy of the psychoanalytical nature of then-ground-breaking medical treatment applied by Dr W. H. R. Rivers to the acclaimed war poet Siegfried Sassoon and his fellow sufferers of psycho-neuroses at Craiglockhart War Hospital during the Great War (1914–18) has deservedly attracted great academic interest. This chapter, however, seeks to concentrate on Pat Barker’s portrayal, especially in Regeneration (1991) and to a lesser extent in The Eye in the Door (1993), of the coercive spaces inside the military hospital, which render the clinical approaches pursued therein especially effective. In line with Foucauldian tenets, especially those put forward in Discipline and Punish (1975) and Madness and Civilisation (1961), these coercive spaces will be shown to favourably predispose both patients and staff to engage with and largely conform to the prevailing value system, and, in so doing, to perpetuate the existing networks of power.

This chapter will make repeated allusion to Pat Barker’s Regeneration, the first volume of The Regeneration Trilogy,1 which focuses on the historically based relationship between Siegfried Sassoon (1886–1967), the acclaimed poet and highly decorated World War I combatant, and Dr William Halse Rivers Rivers (1864–1922), the pioneering neurologist-cum-psychologist. The latter is specifically directed by the reigning political authorities to take personal charge of Sassoon’s treatment at Craiglockhart War Hospital following Sassoon’s unexpected and controversial...

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