Does Place Matter?

Aired: May 26, 2013

Does it matter that Romeo and Juliet takes place in Verona, or would the story be the same no matter where it was set? Does place affect our literature? On this episode of Humanities Connection, Neil Baldwin, Montclair State University, Jim Bloom, Muhlenberg College, and Victoria Larson, Montclair State University, discuss how place shapes our cultural expressions. Inspired by the lecture series, Jersey: A Sense of Place, this episode focuses on how New Jersey affected two important American writers: Philip Roth and William Carlos Williams. As told to host Bob Mann, the Garden State had a deep affect on each of these very different artists.

Great literature expresses universal themes often through the use of very specific, concrete details, including place. Vicky Larson discusses the role of place and her series, Jersey: A Sense of Place.

Neil Baldwin talks about William Carlos Williams, who he sees not only as a great writer and the subject of his scholarship, but as a role model of a writer who combined art with a career as a physician.

Considered one of the greatest American authors, Philip Roth set many of his books in his hometown, Newark, NJ. Jim Bloom talks about the effect of setting on Goodbye, Columbus, what he calls “the Jewish version of The Great Gatsby.”


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