The Capital of Elsewhere: Places, Fictions, Houstons
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This study examines the manner in which fictional works illuminate the complex identity of place by investigating authors associated with a single American city, Houston, Texas, focusing chapter length studies on four: Donald Barthelme, Rick Bass, Farnoosh Moshiri, and Tony Diaz. Its methodological framework is the “geocritical” approach, wherein, as stated by Bertrand Westphal, “[t]he study of the viewpoint of an author or of a series of authors . . . will be superseded in favor of examining a multiplicity of heterogeneous points of view, which all converge in a given place, the primum mobile of the analysis.” This multifocal approach reveals Houston as a place of unusual juxtapositions formed by freeway culture, fluidity of categories due to a lack of zoning regulations, a “timelessness” resulting from constant bulldozing of the past, and a powerful concern for market forces owing to a laissez-faire attitude towards business and regulation, brought together in what architect Peter Rowe labels the city’s “ever-present and unvarnished capacity for destabilization and shape-shifting.” Variations of the place-experience of Houston based on the four authors’ heterogeneous viewpoints are examined, and potential drawbacks of the geocritical model in identifying the nature of place through the lens of literature are explored.
Hudder, Clifford Wallace (2018). The Capital of Elsewhere: Places, Fictions, Houstons. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from