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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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3 The Island Space in Film Adaptations of The Tempest: On the Invisibility of Borders (María Luisa Pascual Garrido)


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3    The Island Space in Film Adaptations of The Tempest: On the Invisibility of Borders


This chapter examines how the island space in Shakespeare’s The Tempest (1611) is reconfigured in four different films which range from such mass-entertainment products as the Western Yellow Sky (1948) and the science fiction classic Forbidden Planet (1956) to the inventive transpositions by Jarman – The Tempest (1979) – and Greenaway – Prospero’s Books (1991). I contend that the island is not a real location but a heterotopia, a space that lends itself to the dramatization of different conflicts and power struggles for domination and resistance, thus allowing great freedom for diverse discursive articulations of space. A comparison of the several reconfigurations of the island space in those film adaptations reveals how anxiety over space takes shape as various kinds of conflicts develop. The existence and nature of borders marking the inside/outside of bounded space is key to understanding how space is constructed in each film and to what purpose.

One of the reasons why The Tempest remains one of the most frequently performed and adapted plays in the Shakespearean canon is its original setting: the island, which lends itself easily to the dramatization of conflicts and power struggles for domination and resistance. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines an island as: ‘1. A track of land completely surrounded by water, and not large enough to be called a continent. 2. Something...

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