The University of Wisconsin - Madison Spanish and Portuguese Graduate Student Conference
IMAGINED SPACES: Examining identities and imaginaries through the real, fictional, and theoretical places of Iberian and Latin American literatures
March 8-10, 2013
Space is the expanse containing everything. At the same time, it is the specific area occupied by any object, physical or otherwise, and it is the distance that separates bodies, identities, and groups. People and things—in addition to memories, trauma, conflicts and ideals—take up space that can be real or imaginary, and arise from concrete proof, fiction, or desire. Space is fundamentally a mental category that allows us, both individually and collectively, to understand and organize the information that we perceive. These imagined frameworks result in limits: from the physical limit between two realms and its consequences for the mentalities of those who inhabit both sides of that limit, to the very limits separating mental categories. These limits are the essence of the questions that we ask as we negotiate our experience with the world, questions that arise from the spatial metaphors that abound in the way we talk and write and the lines that we draw on maps to signal where one jurisdiction ends and another begins. As we ponder these questions, we become aware that the imagined quality of these spaces and the very concrete, tangible effects that their construction entails call into question neat distinctions between the real and the imagined, between fact and fiction.