Limited Places vs. Spatial Barriers

  • Toni Veneri University of Trieste
Keywords: space, place, cartography, travel literature, Renaissance, Marco Polo


Renaissance travel literature does not include the experience of the geometrical border yet: it tells about positioning in zones, transitional areas where everything happens. Thus these textual traces increasingly tend to fashion themselves according provisional negotiations between map indicators and route indicators, between description and narration, leading to a balance or a tension between strategies and tactics. The features of the modern map, its formalization and its newly acquired autonomy, depend on this very polarization, on a binarism emerging between spatial setup and material experience of places. Referring to this crucial historical context, this paper would like to consider some apparently divergent definitions of space and place. In the last decades two main trends, respectively oriented to the theoretical redemption of the notion of space (the spatial turn of cultural studies) and place (the humanistic turn of geographical disciplines), seem nonetheless to convey towards a shared critique of the rigidity and stability of the concept of place when confronted to the polysemic category of space. If the Aristotelian place as a qualitative limit worked as an authoritative foundation unit for the medieval space of localization, during the Renaissance a quantitative space willing to be an “unlimited place” challenges this well established organization. Considering this process, this paper suggests the possibility, in order to suit a distinction rendered influential by Yi-Fu Tuan in geographical studies, to invert the promising philosophical terms employed by Michel de Certeau to describe the radical changes undergone by geographical imagination in these critical centuries.


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Author Biography

Toni Veneri, University of Trieste

Toni Veneri is “cultore della materia” in Comparative Literature and Literary Theory at the University of Trieste, where he obtained in 2009 the diploma of the School of Palaeography, Diplomatics and Archives Administration, and in 2011 a PhD in Humanities. His primary area of interest is the construction of space in late-medieval and early modern travel literature, in its encounter with the history of cartography, art, print and diplomacy.

Selected published essays: “Ai margini della civiltà: la scrittura della natura in Alberto Fortis”, Literature and ecology, Compar(a)ison, 2 (2007): 125-138 (published 2010); “Leone l’Africano e l’immaginazione narrativa”, Studi Culturali, 7 (2010) 2: 301-318; Introduction and edition of the Enciclopedia morale e civile della vita, costumi ed impegni di religione dell'abbate Antonio Olivieri, Cosmopoli, 1724, Edizioni digitali del CISVA, 2010,


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How to Cite
Veneri, T. (2011). Limited Places vs. Spatial Barriers. Between, 1(1).
Geocriticism, Geopolitics: The Gaze of the Other