‘Below the Level of the Visible’: The Mathematics of Space in Jane Smiley’s A Thousand Acres

Nayef Ali Al-Joulan

Abstract


This paper examines Jane Smiley’s presentation of space within a distinctive scientific discourse. It argues that mathematics and other sciences are recruited in A Thousand Acres in a manner that turns literary language into a scientific analysis of the land and the people and by which mechanisekphrasis poses as a distinctive therapeutic m of recall since, after all, the whole narrative is presented as an act of remembering a past along with a specific space. The study also underlines how Smiley questions the validity of science, mainly mathematics. Nonetheless, it concludes that by recruiting the sciences within her ekphrastic style, Smiley underscores that cognitive ekphrastic literature is the domain where the contested sciences and humanities might be allied, and where the sciences might overcome their abstractness and numbness and the humanities achieve a rational background. Keywords: Jane Smiley; A Thousand Acres; Scientific Literature; Ekphrasis; Spatial Literature; American novel

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3968/j.ccc.1923670020100603.008

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