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In recent decades, spatiality - the consideration of what it means to be situated in space and place - has become a key concept in understanding human behavior and cultural production. Texts by and about the medieval Irish contain perhaps the highest concentration of spatial writing in the medieval European milieu, and only in Ireland was a distinct genre of placelore formalized.
As this book shows, Ireland provides an extensively documented example of a culture that took a pre-modern 'spatial turn' and developed influential textual models through which audiences, religious and secular, in Ireland and in Europe, could engage with landscapes near and far. The country's peripheral geographic position, widespread monastic practices of self-imposed exile and nomadism, and early experiences of English colonialism required strategies for maintaining a place-based identity while undergoing dispossession from ancestral lands. These cultural developments, combined with the early establishment of Latin and vernacular literary institutions, primed the Irish to create and implement this poetics of place.
A landscape of words traces the trajectory of Irish place-writing through close study of the 'greatest hits' of (and about) medieval Ireland: Adomnï¿½n's De locis sanctis, Navigatio Sancti Brendani, vernacular voyage tales, Tï¿½in Bï¿½ Cualnge, Acallam na Senï¿½rach, the Topographia and Expugnatio Hibernica of Gerald of Wales, and Anglo-Latin accounts of St. Patrick's Purgatory. It provides rigorous source analysis in support of new ways of understanding medieval Irish literature, landscape and place-writing that will be essential reading for scholars of medieval Ireland and Britain.