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Home arrow Language & Literature arrow Occupying Space in American Literature and Culture: Static Heroes, Social Movements and Empowerment

Introduction. Spatial and Ideological Occupations

Seeing Manhattan from the 110th floor of the World Trade Center. 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. It is transformed into a texturology in which extremes coincide— extremes of ambition and degradation, brutal oppositions of races and styles.

—Michel de Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life

Politics in general . . . is about the visibilities of places and abilities of the body in these places, about the partition of public and private spaces, about the very configuration of the visible and the relation of the visible to what can be said about it.

—Jacques Ranciere, “Comment and Responses”

 
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