chapter  13
Literature and Land Surveying
BySarah Luria
Pages 9

Land surveying, a subtopic of mapping, has become increasingly interesting to literary studies. Land surveys take measurements for maps and divide land into property. Literary interest in land surveying grew from the humanities' study of maps as texts. A topographical survey for instance maps "space" by measuring distances and elevations, and positioning locales within an abstract cartographic grid. Surveying begets a cultural, imaginative, and physical genealogy whereby surveys trigger re-surveys and land parcels are passed along from owner to owner. Patrick Chura's work extends this conversation, using surveying as a tool of literary scholarship. Survey literature offers extended critiques of our obsession to divide, master, and commodify the land. Critics have been surprised in fact to discover how much surveying resonates with literary production. Land surveying is both abstract and literal; it is "a concrete literary practice" that writes its boundaries on paper and directly on the land itself.