Everyday Criticism

The View from the Ground Floor of the World Trade Center

Moacir P. de Sá Pereira / @muziejus
Asst. Prof. / Faculty Fellow, Department of English, New York University
New York, NY, 29 October 2015


Spiegelman, “9/11/2001.”

Spiegelman, In the Shadow of No Towers, 5

Time Magazine

Woods and Franz, “The Top of America.”

Woods and Franz, “The Top of America.”

Top of the World Trade Center in 1984

TedQuackenbush, “View of the Top of One WTC and Mid-Manhattan.”

Beneath the haze stirred up by the winds, the urban island, a sea in the middle of the sea, lifts up the skyscrapers over Wall Street, sinks down at Greenwich, then rises again to the crests of Midtown, quietly passes over Central Park and finally undulates off into the distance beyond Harlem. A wave of verticals. Its agitation is momentarily arrested by vision. The gigantic mass is immobilized before the eyes.

De Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life, 91

[The viewer’s] elevation transfigures him into a voyeur. It puts him at a distance. It transforms the bewitching world by which one was “possessed” into a text that lies before one’s eyes. It allows one to read it, to be a solar Eye, looking down like a god. The exaltation of a scopic and gnostic drive: the fiction of knowledge is related to this lust to be a viewpoint and nothing more.

De Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life, 92.

The eyes have been used to signify a perverse capacity… to distance the knowing subject from everybody and everything in the interests of unfettered power… Vision in this technological feast becomes unregulated gluttony; all perspective gives way to infinitely mobile vision, which no longer seems just mythically about the god-trick of seeing everything from nowhere, but to have put the myth into ordinary practice. And like the god-trick, this eye fucks the world to make techno-monsters.

Haraway, “Situated Knowledges,” in Simians, Cyborgs, and Women, 188–189.

[C]ritique relies on a rear world of the beyond… With critique, you may debunk, reveal, unveil, but only as long as you establish, through this process of creative destruction, a privileged access to the world of reality behind the veils of appearances.

Latour, “An Attempt at a Compositionist Manifesto,” 475.

[R]esearch projects often assume the hierarchy in advance, and are set up a priori to obey its conventions. In short, hierarchical scale is a classic case of form determining content… whereby objects, events and processes come pre-sorted, ready to be inserted into the scalar apparatus at hand… Levels of scale suggest an epistemological hoist — a methodological leg-up… implying a transcendent position for the researcher.

Marston et al., “Human Geography without Scale,” 422.

Where the heroic critic corrects the text, a nonheroic critic might aim instead to correct for her critical subjectivity, by using machines to bypass it… [D]igital modes of reading may be the inspiration for the hope that we could bypass the selectivity and evaluative energy that have been considered the hallmarks of good criticism, in order to attain what has almost become taboo in literary studies: objectivity, validity, truth.

Best and Marcus, “Surface Reading,” 17.

Wilkens: Log-scaled counts of named locations by nation, 1851–75

Wilkens, “The Geographic Imagination,” 811.

Don Quixote European translations

Moretti, “Don Quixote, European Translations,” Atlas of the European Novel, 172.

Napoleon's Russian Campaign, 1812

Yankey, “Napoleon’s Russian Campaign, 1812.”

Cordell et al., “Viral Texts.”

Such a literary geography, however, can refer to two very different things. It may indicate the study of space in literature; or else, of literature in space. In the first case, the dominant is a fictional one: Balzac’s version of Paris, [and so on]. In the second case, it is real historical space [like] the European diffusion of Don Quixote… The two spaces may occasionally (and interestingly) overlap, but they are essentially different, and I will treat them as such.

Moretti, Atlas of the European Novel, 3.

Edinburgh's Enlightenment, 1680–1750

Pittock, “Edinburgh’s Enlightenment, 1680–1750”

Lucien de Rubempré: the day of success (chapters 21–25)

Moretti, “Lucien de Rubempré: the day of success (chapters 21–25),” Atlas of the European Novel, 92.

Placing a literary phenomenon in its specific space—mapping it—is not the conclusion of geographical work; it’s the beginning. After which begins in fact the most challenging part of the whole enterprise: one looks at a map, and thinks.

Moretti, Atlas of the European Novel, 7.

A basic distinction can be made between visualizations that are representations of information already known and those that are knowledge generators capable of creating new information through their use. Representations are static in relation to what they show and reference… Knowledge generators have a dynamic, open-ended relation to what they can provoke.

Drucker, Graphesis, 65.

Top of the World Trade Center in 1984

TedQuackenbush, “View of the Top of One WTC and Mid-Manhattan.”

The ordinary practitioners of the city live “down below,” below the thresholds at which visibility begins. They walk—an elementary form of this experience of the city; they are walkers, Wandersmänner, whose bodies follow the thicks and thins of an urban “text” they write without being able to read it.

De Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life, 93.

[S]trategies pin their hopes on the resistance that the establishment of a place offers to the erosion of time; tactics on a clever utilization of time, of the opportunities it presents and also of the play that it introduces into the foundations of power.

De Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life, 38–39.

Everyday Criticism…

1. Mixed Methods

  1. Knowledge is always partial and situated
  2. Epistemology and methodology are related, but this relationship is neither fixed nor singular
  3. The knowledge making we do in research is inherently political

Elwood and Cope, Qualitative GIS, 5.

1. Mixed Methods
2. Iteration

Dammit, Jim, I'm a scholar of literature, not a historian
[W]e engage with the empirical in order to… put mathematical interpretations of social structure into dialogue with thick historical description and close readings… resisting any kind of strict bifurcation of distant empirical explanation and close hermeneutic interpretation.

So and Long, “Network Analysis and the Sociology of Modernism,” 155.

One Final Example…

Cities and smaller entities mentioned in For Whom the Bell Tolls

Cities and smaller entities mentioned in For Whom the Bell Tolls, separated by narrative site

Cities and smaller entities mentioned in Robert Jordan’s monologues in For Whom the Bell Tolls

[T]he greater intellectual challenge is to create spatial representations without referencing a pre-existing ground.

Drucker, Graphesis, 77.

Average distances between placenames in For Whom the Bell Tolls
Ground Floor of World Trade Center One

“The Ground Floor of the World Trade Center.”

## Thanks! #### [http://moacir.com/talks/everyday-criticism/](http://moacir.com/talks/everyday-criticism/)
## Bibliography * Best, Stephen and Sharon Marcus. “Surface Reading: An Introduction.” *Representations* 108, no. 1 (2009): 1–21. [doi:10.1525/rep.2009.108.1.1](http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/rep.2009.108.1.1) * Certeau, Michel de. *The Practice of Everyday Life*. Berkeley: U California P, 1984. * Cope, Meghan and Sarah Elwood, eds. *Qualitative GIS: A Mixed Methods Approach*. Los Angeles: Sage, 2009. * Cordell, Ryan, Elizabeth Maddock Dillon, and David Smith. “[Viral Texts: Mapping Networks of Reprinting in 19th-Century Newspapers and Magazines](http://www.viraltexts.org).” * Drucker, Johanna. *Graphesis: Visual Forms of Knowledge Production*. Cambridge, MA: Harvard U P, 2014. * Felski, Rita. “[Critique and the Hermeneutics of Suspicion](http://journal.media-culture.org.au/index.php/mcjournal/article/view/431).” *M/C Journal* 15, no. 1 (2011). * ———. “[Doing the Humanities (with Bruno Latour)](https://www.academia.edu/15942889/Doing_the_Humanities_with_Bruno_Latour).” Presented at the “Recomposing the Humanities with Bruno Latour” Conference, Charlottesville, VA, September 2015. * Gitelman, Lisa and Virginia Jackson. “Introduction.” In *Raw Data Is an Oxymoron*, edited by Lisa Gitelman. Cambridge, MA: MIT P, 2013. * Goldstone, Andrew. “[Social Science and Profanity at DH 2014](http://arcade.stanford.edu/blogs/social-science-and-profanity-dh-2014).” *Arcade* (July 26, 2014). * Haraway, Donna. “Situated Knowledges: The Science Question in Feminism and the Privilege of Partial Perspective.” In *Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of Nature*. New York: Routledge, 1991. * Latour, Bruno. “[An Attempt at a Compositionist Manifesto](https://muse.jhu.edu/journals/new_literary_history/v041/41.3.latour.html).” *New Literary History* 41, no. 3 (2010): 471–490. * ———. “Why Has Critique Run out of Steam? From Matters of Fact to Matters of Concern.” *Critical Inquiry* 30, no. 2 (2004): 225–248. [doi:10.1086/421123](http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/421123)
## Bibliography * Love, Heather. “Close Reading and Thin Description.” *Public Culture* 25, no. 3 (2013): 401–434. [doi:10.1215/08992363-2144688](http://dx.doi.org/10.1215/08992363-2144688) * Marston, Sallie A., John Paul Jones III, and Keith Woodward. “Human Geography without Scale.” *Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers* 30, no. 4 (2005): 416–432. [doi:10.1111/j.1475-5661.2005.00180.x](http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1475-5661.2005.00180.x). * Moretti, Franco. *Atlas of the European Novel, 1800–1900*. London: Verso, 1998. * Pittock, Murray. “[Edinburgh’s Enlightenment](http://www.gla.ac.uk/schools/critical/research/researchcentresandnetworks/robertburnsstudies/edinburghenlightenment/themap/).” * So, Richard Jean and Hoyt Long. “Network Analysis and the Sociology of Modernism.” *boundary 2* 40, no. 2 (2013): 147–182. [doi:10.1215/01903659-2151839](http://dx.doi.org/10.1215/01903659-2151839) * ———. “Who Is Thomas Curtis Clark? Modernist Networks of Exclusion.” Presented at “Seeing with Numbers: Sociological and Macroanalytic Approaches to Literary Exclusion” at the 2014 Convention of the Modern Language Association, Chicago, January 2014. * Spiegelman, Art. “[9/11/2001](http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/911-new-yorker-covers).” *The New Yorker* (September 24, 2001). * ———. *In the Shadow of No Towers*. New York: Pantheon, 2004. * TedQuackenbush. “[View of top of One WTC and mid-Manhattan from the observation deck of Two WTC](https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:World_Trade_Center_Tower_One-1984.jpg).” *Wikipedia* (June 21, 1984). * Wilkens, Mattew. “The Geographic Imagination of Civil War–Era American Fiction.” *American Literary History* 25, no. 4 (2013): 803–840. [doi:10.1093/alh/ajt045](http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/alh/ajt045) * Woods, Johnathan D. and Michael Franz. “[The Top of America](http://time.com/world-trade-center/).” *TIME Magazine* (March 17, 2014). * Yankey, Gregory. “Napoleon’s Russian Campaign, 1812.” *[Mr. Yankey’s World History Class](http://www.owassops.org/webpages/gyankey/regadvhandouts.cfm?subpage=313703), Owasso High School*.