MESSAGES, SAGES AND AGES No. 2/ 2020
The academic journal Messages, Sages and Ages (http://msa.usv.ro/), based at the English Department, University of Suceava, Romania, invites contributions for an issue focusing on (narratives of) architecture, psychology and self. The theme issue is edited by Dr Stephanie Liddicoat (Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, Australia).
Reading Ian Sinclair’s highly evocative account, Living with Buildings: And Walking with Ghosts – On Health and Architecture (2018), the (non)fictional connections between inhabited space(s), health, sense of self and psychological well-being are embedded. He generates universal resonance with the notion that we shape ourselves and we are shaped in return by the buildings we inhabit, and the walls that contain us. Sinclair recalls W.G. Sebald’s Austerlitz, who experiences “’three weeks of mental absence’ in St Clement’s hospital, where he has been inserted, like a returned volume, among the sheets of a narrow bed in one of the male wards. [He] processes the endless corridors, ‘desolate and weirdly contented’ on the palliative drugs he has been fed, peering through dirty windows at the fecund wilderness of Tower Hamlets cemetery. He is trapped within a structure – part prison, part asylum, part barracks (the keepers are prisoners too) – built to facilitate confusion. Patients arrive at the hospital gates with their undiagnosed but interesting problems as the price of entry” (p. 7).
Author Janet Frame, writing from Seacliffe Lunatic Asylum, New Zealand, recalls that during this time, she “inhabited a territory of loneliness which resembles the place where the dying spend their time before death, and from where those who do return, living, to the world bring, inevitably, a unique point of view that is a nightmare, a treasure, a lifelong possession” (Frame, 1987, p. 96). This [spatial] experience pervading her writing, Frame talks of “signposts to a world that is not even mentioned” (Frame, 1983, p. 9). She has in mind the core of the self which may remain unknown, even to oneself.
Such interconnections between spatial experiences and the self oscillate between presence and absence, inscription and erasure, construction and disintegration. Such limits are conducive to narrative development since notions of place permeate cultural imaginaries about the self across narrative media. This call for papers seeks to explore these liminal space(s) between architecture, psychology and self.
The built environments in which we move, live and recreate are affective spaces that tell us about everyday practices, lived experiences, social relations, memories and emotions. The complexities of these space(s) are evident whenever they are talked of; such environments slide between poles of security and protection, insecurity and danger, self and other, where multiple different conflicting geographies often intersect.
We are interested in aspects of our experience of space(s) which are known, and those which are inattentively perceived. We are interested in examinations of the objects of marginal consciousness which influence our experience of space(s), and the interrelations between the situated body, the ego-self, and psycho-cognitive geographies of experiences.
We call for speculations/analyses/original research/theoretical inquiry/design inquiry engaging with, but not limited to:
- Disruptions to the realities and perceptions of inhabited space(s)
- Inhabited space(s) that engage or manipulate psycho-cognitive experiences
- Historical precedents of inhabited space(s) that engage or manipulate psycho-cognitive experiences
- Physiological and / or psychological analyses of inhabited spaces that manifest, catalyse, affect or explore constructs of self or psychological states
- Explorations of deeper layers of existence and awareness of self manifest in space(s), which may include time as articulated through texture, fragrance, sound, temperature, or space(s) articulated through ritual
- Geographies of light and dark and their shaping of emotional and affective experience in a variety of space(s)
- Relations between architecture, mental health and the lived experience
- The theme of architecture in literature and film
Emphasis is given to submissions of a transdisciplinary nature, whose work sheds new light on the readings of space and its relationships with psychological well-being. We welcome original papers in English and invite proposals (no more than 9,000 words) from senior as well as junior academics.