Crosshatched Places: Mapping Spatial Complexities; ACLA, Toronto, April 4-7, 2013

full name / name of organization: 
American Comparative Literature Association

This panel explores how the trope of "crosshatching"—as elaborated in Mieville's novel, The City and the City, or illustrated by Sergei Larenkov's photography—helps us redraw cognitive maps of contested spaces. Crosshatching, where "two or more worlds inhabit the same territory," illustrates how spaces we live in or move through are palimpsests of differing, often competing, narratives. Consider, for example, riven cities like Berlin or Sarajevo, the Jewish ghetto of Renaissance Venice, the medieval pilgrim's Jerusalem. To negotiate such spaces comfortably, we "unsee" features that might breach the political or cultural truths by which we live. How might narratives set in crosshatched spaces demonstrate the paradoxical strategy of "unseeing" alien elements? Crosshatching can also confound "global positioning systems," institutional forces intent on fixing us on the map. According to Jameson, within global capitalism the "truth" of one's daily life is necessarily removed from the immediate scene of experience, calling for a new critical method to read how "authentic experience…cannot be true [while] a scientific or cognitive model of the same content…escapes individual experience." How do literary narratives function as maps that reveal the crosshatched global in the local? We invite presentations addressing the concept of "crosshatching" not only in contemporary narratives but also in texts from across literary history. We desire to create transhistorical and transcultural conversations around cognitive mapping practices as modes that breach the unseen, allowing subjects to re-view their worlds in order to challenge the boundaries of the familiar in the form of culture or nation.

Keywords: crosshatching, cognitive mapping, China Mieville, speculative fiction, travel literature, tourism, transhistorical, capitalism, nomads, deterritorialization, hybridity

Abstracts can be submitted directly through the Conference website:

For more information contact:
Dr. Christine Neufeld at or
Dr. Craig Dionne at