Dots on the literary map? Literary Valorizations of Place, the Wealth of Earl Lovelace’s Trinidad, and Geometric Data Analysis
This article intervenes in scholarly debates about postcolonial space by demonstrating the distinctive strengths of Geometric Data Analysis (GDA) as an approach to literary space that skirts both close and distant reading modes. I use GDA to map the fictional space of Trinidadian author Earl Lovelace’s short story “A Brief Conversion,” offering a more complete and systematic account than earlier readings. I argue that the theoretical stakes of this sort of analysis reside in the distinction between what I call the wealth of place and the value of place, terms inspired by Marxist value critique. Despite its best intentions, literary criticism tends to get caught up in the logic of valorization, putting into circulation place as a value, dissociated from the wealth of place that the literary work (in the best of cases) produces. From these theoretical starting points, I assert that geometric methods can stay truer to the wealth of place by disclosing the space of possibles created by the literary text, thus restoring to the storyworld a sense of its dynamic and open orientations.
ARIEL: A Review of International English Literature 49 (2-3): 1-36.