Conjuring Geographies: Using Experiential Techniques to Explore and Evoke Place

Dr Meg Mundell1

1Deakin University, Melbourne, VIC


This paper explores the how of literary wheres: the “backstage” work of conjuring place in textual form. While geography and literary studies have long been in fruitful dialogue, the emergent discipline of creative writing has until recently remained on the fringes of this conversation. Taking a process-based perspective, this paper examines how experienced creative writers harness personal and shared understandings of place to evoke it vividly on the page. Drawing on interview-based case studies of four authors – Tony Birch, Elizabeth Knox, Ross Gibson, and Jane Goodall – I present a model to help explicate how literary practitioners imbue textual place with meaning and emotion. Encompassing site visits, sensory engagement, spatial memories, cultural knowledge, collaborative tactics, and what I call “vicarious emplacement”, the Place-Oriented Experiential Techniques (POET) model is a set of generative methodological tools available to writers, geographers, and other researchers/creative practitioners seeking to explore and evoke the multidimensionality of place.


Dr Meg Mundell is an ECR/cultural geographer/writer with a focus on place, spatial justice and narratives of homelessness. Her current research explores understandings of place amongst people who have experienced homelessness, and she is editing We Are Here: Stories of Home, Place and Belonging (Affirm Press, October 2019), featuring creative writing by participants. Her novels Black Glass (Scribe, 2011) and The Trespassers (August 2019, UQP) employ plausible dystopias to explore experiences of displacement. Meg is a Research Fellow (Deakin University) and steering committee member for the interdisciplinary HOME Research Hub, which focuses on homelessness, affordable housing and social inclusion.


The Institute of Australian Geographers (IAG) is the principal body representing geographers and promoting the study and application of geography in Australia. It was founded in 1958 and since then has promoted, supported and defended Australian geography.

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