June 12, 2018
My article investigates the manifold interactions between textual and diagrammatic elements. First, it outlines the changes in literary and cultural studies in the wake of the so-called ‘topographical turn,’ which have made possible the identification of certain cartographic practices as cultural techniques. Second, it discusses Friedrich Kittler’s idea of literature as a cultural technique itself, and considers how this concept can be reconciled with the topographical turn. Third, it analyses a handful of cartographic techniques employed in narratives and argues for a field of scriptural operations that provide a common ground for jointly reading maps and novels. Fourth, it carries out a reading of Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow which focuses on how the diagrammatic inscription of the V2 rocket and its arc condition both the protagonists’ movement on the novel’s plane and the map-making instances in the narrative. Fifth and finally, it points out why Pynchon’s work might be considered a medial counterpart of a map if the topographical approach, instead of being considered a comparison between fictional and real locations, is understood as a scrutiny into the operations indispensable to creating a fictional territory.