chapter  3
Senses of Place
ByNeal Alexander
Pages 11

The idea of a sense of place occupies an important position at the intersection between literary studies and human geography, figuring prominently in the conceptual vocabularies of both disciplines. This chapter argues that senses of place emerge from the engagement of our five senses not only in apprehending but also in actively making places, and in making sense of the worlds in which they take place. It seeks to identify and distinguish between the various layers of meaning that it has acquired in the discourse of literary criticism and human geography. The conceptual origins of sense of place can be traced to the Roman idea of genius loci, or the "spirit of place". A particularly striking literary example of such multisensual engagements with place is to be found in the poetry of Roy Fisher, for whom the city of Birmingham's industrial modernity and post-industrial reconfiguration are abiding themes.