Definition and History of Experimental Literature in Geography


Experimental literature in geography is a subfield of geography that adopts an experimental approach to studying and representing geographical phenomena. It involves the use of scientific methods, such as controlled experiments, to gather and analyze geographical data and create innovative forms of literature that convey these findings. This article aims to define experimental literature in geography and trace its evolution over time.

The roots of experimental literature in geography can be traced back to the late 19th and early 20th century, when the influence of positivist philosophy led geographers to prioritize empirical evidence and scientific methods in their research. This approach, known as the “quantitative revolution”, marked a shift away from traditional descriptive and interpretive methods towards a more objective and quantitative approach to geographical studies.

The emergence of experimental literature as a distinct genre within geography was greatly influenced by the works of French geographer, Paul Vidal de la Blache. In 1903, he introduced the concept of “chorology”, which focused on the spatial distribution of phenomena and their interrelationships. This approach laid the foundation for subsequent quantitative and experimental studies in geography.

One of the key defining features of experimental literature in geography is its emphasis on replicability and causality. In order to demonstrate causality, experiments are designed with controlled variables to isolate and measure the effects of a particular phenomenon. This allows for a deeper understanding of the relationship between various geographical factors and their impact on particular spaces.

An example of experimental literature in geography is the work of Ian McHarg, a pioneer of landscape ecology. In his book “Design with Nature” (1969), McHarg used a combination of fieldwork, cartography, and statistical analysis to assess the ecological conditions of a site and propose optimal land-use plans. His approach, known as “ecological planning”, was a major departure from traditional approaches to urban planning and paved the way for the use of experimental methods in designing sustainable and resilient landscapes.

Another notable example of experimental literature in geography is the work of geographer, William Bunge. In his book “Theoretical Geography” (1971), Bunge applied mathematical formulas and computer simulations to analyze spatial patterns and processes. This marked a significant shift towards using quantitative methods to understand complex geographical phenomena, such as urban growth and migration.

In recent years, experimental literature in geography has continued to evolve, with new technologies and methods being incorporated into research. Geographic Information Systems (GIS), for instance, have greatly enhanced the ability to collect and analyze large amounts of spatial data, leading to the development of new experimental methods such as spatial analysis and modeling.

The use of experimental literature in geography has also expanded beyond traditional research contexts. It has been utilized in fields such as environmental management, urban planning, and public health to address complex geographical problems and inform decision-making processes. For instance, in environmental management, experiments are used to test the effectiveness of different conservation strategies and inform policies for sustainable resource use.

In conclusion, experimental literature in geography is a specialized subfield that utilizes scientific methods to investigate and represent geographical phenomena. Its roots can be traced back to the early 20th century and have evolved significantly over time with the incorporation of new technologies and approaches. The emphasis on replicability, causality, and interdisciplinary collaboration makes experimental literature a valuable tool in understanding and addressing complex geographical issues. As the field of geography continues to evolve, experimental methods will undoubtedly play a crucial role in shaping our understanding of the world around us.