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xi + 202 pp.

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Journeys in the Songscape
Space and the Song of Songs
Christopher Meredith

The poetic world of the Song of Songs is a famously heady and distortive landscape, filled with bright sunlit rills, nocturnal cityscapes, and fecund bodies laid out like kingdoms. But what does the Song’s use and abuse of spatial relationships tell us about its subject matter, and what do its strange panoramas tell us about literary space more broadly? Directly challenging recent methodological trends in biblical spatial studies, Journeys in the Songscape uses a range of innovative critical tools to explore, map and critique poetic space in the Song of Songs.

Taking the reader on a series of journeys across the Song’s gendered, rural, urban and bodily spaces, Meredith argues that the worlds that spring up between the Song’s lovers are all subtle reimaginings of the space between the biblical page and its own readers, and that at the heart of the Song is a (con)fusion of the dynamics of loving with the experience of reading. Love is at work in the Song, says Meredith, but it is not its subject so much as a sign under which collusions of power, textuality, space and subjectivity labour. The Song’s world speaks not only to sexual relationships, then, but to the structure of language itself; textual spaces do not organize textual meaning but rather image its fundamental instability.

Journeys in the Songscape is a bold new literary treatment of the Song of Songs, but it is also a rethinking of what we mean by the term ‘literary space’, and represents a playful incitement to reconsider how critical tools are put to use in apprehending space as a literary construct.

Chris Meredith is Teaching Fellow in Hebrew Bible, Department of Biblical Studies, University of Sheffield.

Series: Hebrew Bible Monographs, 53
978-1-907534-85-0 hardback / 978-1-910928-23-3 paperback
Publication June 2013

1. Towards a Cartography of Reading
     Notes in the Margins of Maps
     Theorists Abroad: Lefebvre and Soja
     Other Cartographies
     Exploring Text and Con-Text with Derrida
     Worlds of Meaning in Benjamin’s Labyrinth
     Advice for the Traveller

2. Undreaming the Song’s World:
     On Inhabiting a Phantasm

     Holey Ground
     Rude Awakenings, or, The D-Wor(l)d
     Sharing the ‘Bath of Madness’
     Benjamin’s Critical Phantoscope
     On the Scrim: Fluid Continuity in the Song?
     Behind the Scrim: The Song’s ‘Space of Two’
     Conjuring Tricks: Turning Sex into Discourse
     Turning Lovers into Poets
     Turning Readers into Phantasmagorians
     Turning the Page, Making the Bed

3. Locked Gardens and the City as Labyrinth
     The Green Green Grass of Biblical Academe
     Painting the Roses Red: Gardens as Power
     ‘One Man’s Woman’s Dominion is…’
     The Song’s Garden Revisited
     Gardening as Vajazzling: The Horticulture of ‘Her’
     The City as Labyrinth: On Not-Reading the City
     Sex and the City
     Opacity and Transparenc(it)y
     DistURBing, duplicAtiNg
     Freud and the Labyrinthine City
     The City in the Garden in the City

4. Gender, Space and Threshold Magic
     The Line that is not One
     Gendered Space and Irigaray
     Rose and Paradoxical Geography
     The Woman and the Window
     The Man in the Mirror
     Doorstep Sex
     Doors as Scrims
     Derrida’s Hymen
     The Elusive Line

5. The Corpus without Organs
     (Can Be Used as a Surrealist Kingdom)

     Well-sung Bodies
     Some Assembly Required
     Positing a Prior Body
     The Lover in the Song is Mae West
     Becoming Body
     Sediment as Syntax: The Body without Organs
     Flashes of Tellurian Flesh
     Measuring Territories and Deterritorializations
     Lodged ‘in’ a Boundless Text
     ‘The Patient Labyrinth of Lines Traces….’

Conclusion:The Songscape, A Task of Reading