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Space, Place, Narrative: Critical Regionalism and the Idea of Home in a Global Age

Klaus Benesch


How to become modern and, simultaneously, return to sources, how to integrate historical progress and the preservation and availability of cultural traditions has been variously described as a major dilemma of modernity. Underlying this dilemma are differing notions of home and of the role of places and regions in a staggeringly globalized, technology-driven civilization. Regionalist movements, such as Agrarianism in the South of the US, have thrived on their antipathy to a fast changing modern world; they have also promulgated a renewed sense of place and a return to regional history and traditions. The essay discusses critical regionalists’ celebration of the local and the region; in so doing it also looks at two representatives of opposing notions of home in modernity, Martin Heidegger and Emmanuel Levinas. Finally, it contends that it is primarily by way of narrative and storytelling that a sense of place, of being-in-the-world can be reconstructed.

Corresponding author: Prof. Dr. Klaus Benesch, Department of English and American Studies, University of Munich (LMU), Schellingstr. 3/VG, 80799 München, Germany, e-mail:

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Published Online: 2016-3-11
Published in Print: 2016-3-1

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