Contemporary Literature

Martin LEER

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Dr Martin LEER

Maître d'enseignement et de recherches

+41 (0)22 379 70 25
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Research Interests / Recherches

Martin Leer was born in Copenhagen, Denmark and studied English and Arabic at the University of Copenhagen before obtaining his Ph.D. from the University of Queensland, Australia. He has taught at the Universities of Copenhagen (where he was Associate Professor until 2005) and Odense in Denmark and been guest professor at the Universities of Florence, Italy and Nuuk, Greenland. His research and publications centre on Literary geography, particularly but not exclusively from the postcolonial English-speaking world (Africa, Australia, Canada, the Caribbean, South Asia and the Pacific). It is one of his contentions that the contemporary English-speaking world is better comprehended by reference to its geographical diversity that to a linear conception of history.

Among his articles: ”At the Edge: Geography and the Imagination in the Work of David Malouf” Australian Literary Studies 12,1 1985, 3-21, ”From Linear to Areal: Suggestions Towards a Comparative Literary Geography of Canada and Australia”, Kunapipi 12,3 (1990), 75-85, ”Mal du Pays: Symbolic Geography in the Work of Randolph Stow”, Australian Literary Studies 15,1 (1991), 3-25, ”Imagined Counterpart: Outlining a Conceptual Literary Geography of Australia” in Capone, Clunies Ross and Senn, eds., European Perspectives on Australian Literature, St. Lucia: UQP 1991, 1-13, ”Europe, the Orient and the New World: Historical Cosmology and Conceptual Geography 1492-1992”, Kunapipi 14,2 (1992), 22-34, ”Odologia indica: The Significance of Railways in Anglo-Indian and Indian Fiction in English”, Angles on the English-Speaking World, vol.1 (2001), 41-61, ”’This Country Is My Mind’: Les Murray’s Poetics of Place” in Hergenhan and Clunies Ross, eds., The Poetry of Les Murray: Critical Essays, St. Lucia: UQP, 2001, 15-42, ”Language Dreaming: On Translating Les Murray into Danish”, Southerly 63,1 (2003), 181-94.

Literary geography, as he defines it, has as its purpose to show that geography is as important a dimension of the study of literature as history, and to establish a general theory of geographically informed readings. This includes the importance of landscape (and features of it like roads and railways), cartography and meteorology in literature, but also a phenomenology of how literary works imagine and evoke geograhical worlds, but conversely also the literary element in geographical texts, for instance maps. Along with these central concerns Dr. Leer also has an interest in related topics and approaches: ecocriticism, the study of space and time in literature, genres such as travel writing, the literature and theory of diasporas and migration, the body in literature and culture, literature and anthropology, Orientalism and Primitivism. He also has interests in other aspects of contemporary, postcolonial and world literature: literary and cultural theory, modern poetry and poetics, Queer studies, literature and the visual arts, the transformation of literature and literacy under the hegemony of the image, film and televised media, and the theory and practice of literary translation. He is a practicing literary translator of poetry in particular. His Danish translation of a selection of the poetry of the Australian poet Les Murray, En helt almindelig regnbue (Copenhagen: Gyldendal, 1998) was highly acclaimed.

His most recent publications include: Other Routes: 1500 Years of African and Asian Travel Writing (coedited with Tabish Khair, Justin Edwards and Hanna Ziadeh, Oxford: Signal Books/ Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 2006), ”Language on Marginal Soil” (an introduction to and translation of short stories by the contemporary Danish writer Knud Sørensen) (Planet: The Welsh Internationalist October 2006) and Bodies and Voices: The Force-Field Behind Representation and Discourse (coedited with Merete Borch, Bruce Clunies Ross and Eva Rask Knudsen), forthcoming from Rodopi, Amsterdam in 2007.

His present research is concentrated on the rewriting for publication of a work provisonally entitled Edge to Centre: Literary Geography and Subjectivity in the Work of the Australian Writers David Malouf, Randolph Stow and Les Murray and a general theoretical work on Literary Cartography.


Contemporary Literature