Goldie’s Book Explores History of Antipodes

Thursday, February 4, 2010

When Dr. Matthew Goldie left his native New Zealand – or, as it’s often referred to in the United Kingdom, the antipodes –  he did not venture to London, which is diametrically opposite from his home and a hotspot for many young New Zealanders.

Instead, Goldie, at the age of 22, enrolled in a Master of Fine Arts program at Brooklyn College, the City University of New York, where he studied with such renowned poets as Allen Ginsberg and Louis A. Asekoff.

“I wanted to challenge myself and go somewhere else – to another great city,” said Goldie, who now lives in New York City. “I love the art galleries. I love the museums and the intellectual life that goes on in New York.”

It may seem Goldie is always up for a challenge. While he applied to Brooklyn to study English literature and post-colonial literature from the Pacific, Caribbean, Africa and India, he discovered another genre of literature.

“I got seduced by the Middle Ages because it was harder, more of a challenge and weirder. It’s a strange world, the Middle Ages. It’s familiar and unfamiliar,” he explained. “There are enduring themes we expect in literature and things we don’t expect.”

At Rider, Goldie, an associate professor of English, teaches a variety of courses that range from medieval literature and global literature to the history of the English language and poetry. In his most recent challenge, he sought to combine his passion for medieval literature and poetry with his native background and knowledge of global literature while writing his new book, The Idea of the Antipodes.

“I study The Middle Ages and I’m from a country that doesn’t have ‘The Middle Ages,’” he said. “I wanted to work on bringing those two areas together.”

In the book, which was published by Routledge Press in December 2009, Goldie draws on materials dating back from the ancient Greek times to today and explores ideas about the opposite side of the earth. More specifically, Goldie asks where are the antipodes, and what are they? Antipodes, derived from the ancient Greek, meaning “opposite feet,” illustrates people whose feet stand on the opposite side of the earth. Antipodes describe any two places or regions on diametrically opposite sides of the Earth. In particular, the scholarly work focuses on what people think of the earth from where they are from the ancient Greek times to today.

The antipodes today are often located in the Pacific, and Goldie depicts early encounters between Pacific Islanders and Europeans. In addition, he concludes on present-day ideas about the other side of the earth that are made possible by digital technologies. More specifically, Goldie studies the work of Plato; Geoffrey Chaucer, author of Canterbury Tales and Troilus and Criseyde; Richard Brome, an early English playwright; Mai, a first Pacific Islander writer from the 20th century; and Epeli Hau‘ofa, a Polynesian writer from the 20th century.

Through his research, Goldie referred to a wide variety of poems and prose, maps, scientific essays, artworks, and other texts. He researched at a number of libraries in London, at the Folgers Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., the New York Public Library and the Columbia University Library. He also maintained correspondences with libraries in Belgium, Germany and France. In the book, Goldie also reflects on the concept of antipodes in present-day literature.

“It seems that the Internet and the global economy are making the world smaller,” he explained. “It seems possible that we can imagine both sides of the world at the same time. We feel we can be at two places at once.”

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Dr. Matthew Goldie, associate professor of English