On 19 September 2012, the Historical Geography Reading Group met at Bedford Square to discuss Daniel Defoe’s A journal of the plague year (1722). The book, which was introduced by Amy Cutler (Ph.D. candidate), offered up several interesting points of discussion, ranging across the significance of testimony and credibility, literary genre and pseudo history, the regulation of space (both public and private), and the tricky question of determining Defoe’s literary and political intentions. Although not superficially a work of geography, Defoe’s exploration of the 1665 plague in London addresses what me might now regard as important geographical themes: mobility (and the lack of it), networks and rumour, and the politics of space. At once a grim and fascinating read.
The Group—Caroline Cornish, Amy Culter, Felix Driver, Carlos Galviz, Innes M. Keighren—will next time tackle Ian Hacking’s The taming of chance (1990).