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The Work in the World

Geographical Practice and the Written Word

1996
Author:

Michael R. Curry

The Work in the World

Explores the process by which texts create places, and how knowing this changes our understanding of the written work.

Distinctive for the way it views theories in geography and science as fundamentally embedded in written works, The Work in the World argues eloquently that the philosophical questions raised by theories can only be addressed within the broader context of the work.

“The nature of the written work in geography is the subject of this interesting, thoughtful, and important book. This provocative work will be of great interest to those concerned with the ways in which ideas develop and are expressed.” Isis

The writing or reading or buying or selling or judging of a written work is always at the same time the act of making a place-or making places. The author creates a special sort of place for his ideas; the reader, for her engagement with the author; the bookseller, for the notion of books as property to be categorized and sold; and so on. In this book, Michael R. Curry develops a geography of this process, a theory of the nature of space and places in written work.

The Work in the World focuses on a paradox at the heart of this project: Although the written work is inextricably bound up in the construction of the places in which it is written, read, published, circulated, and cited, it nonetheless denies the importance of places. As the product of modern modes of knowledge, technology, and intellectual property, written work seems to say instead that only the encompassing universal space of ideas, objects, and commodities matters.

Distinctive for the way it views theories in geography and science as fundamentally embedded in written works, The Work in the World argues eloquently that the philosophical questions raised by theories can only be addressed within the broader context of the work.

Michael R. Curry is associate professor of geography at the University of California, Los Angeles.

The Work in the World

A professor in the Department of Geography at UCLA, Dr. Curry has been a member of the faculty there since 1988. He holds a BA in liberal arts from New College, BAs in philosophy and geography from the University of Minnesota, and an MA and PhD in geography from Minnesota.

Originally from Arkansas, he has lived in a dozen states and five countries. Before coming to UCLA he worked in a number of positions, among them, as an architectural draftsman, furniture maker, cartographer, and college vice president. Since coming to UCLA he has, in addition, been a visiting faculty member at a number of institutions, including Edinburgh University, Rutgers, and most recently at Harvard’s Program on Information Resource Policy.

His research is on the history of geographical concepts--space and place--and on the geographical implications of information technologies. The author of The work in the world: Geographical practice and the written word (Minnesota, 1996) and Digital places: Living with geographic information technologies (Routledge, 1998), he is currently engaged in an NSF-funded project on the privacy implications of new geographical technologies and on a book, whose working title is A world without maps.

He is currently reviews editor for Ethics, Place, and Environment.

The Work in the World

“The nature of the written work in geography is the subject of this interesting, thoughtful, and important book. This provocative work will be of great interest to those concerned with the ways in which ideas develop and are expressed.” Isis

“By attending to the ways the written work is presented, read, marketed, categorized, and judged, Curry demonstrates how works that purport to offer new theories of space and place are themselves emplaced in patterns of social and economic practices that undermine the researcher’s ability to assume a genuinely critical view.” ISLE

“A unique and subtly argued work on geographical writing, backed by commanding scholarship, eludicating such questions as why are some works so influential and others that are equally accomplished not? Why is it so difficult for writers to adopt a significantly different point of view, or readers to change their mind as a consequence of exposure to a work? Why is it so difficult to communicate? Curry’s originality lies in his use of the pivotal geographical concepts ‘place’ and ‘space’ to illuminate questions that are of serious concern to all (not just geographers) who have a stake in the life of the mind.” Yi-Fu Tuan, University of Wisconsin, Madison