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This Being Called Human: Nature and Human Identity in W.G. Sebald and Samuel Beckett

Bates, Michael (2015) This Being Called Human: Nature and Human Identity in W.G. Sebald and Samuel Beckett. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

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Abstract

This thesis examines the representation of human identity in regards to the relationships and interactions with non-human nature in the writing of W.G. Sebald and Samuel Beckett. Through a discussion of the processes through which humans inhabit, delineate, and preserve settlements and cultural artefacts, the analysis proceeds to interrogate the impact of these upon the depiction of the urban and rural landscapes, and the interaction of humanity with the natural world. This approach depends upon a phenomenological strand of ecocritical thought, informed by the writing of Martin Heidegger and Robert Pogue Harrison, in order to establish the underlying signification of human landscapes via land ownership and memorialisation. The thesis then approaches the impact of modern technology and modes of living, particularly in industrial cities, upon the process of human self-identification, and the impact of this upon human interactions with animals. The discussion that follows approaches the fluidity of the human state, informed by Eric L. Santner's writing on creatureliness, and Carolyn Merchant's research regarding the role of empiricism in setting the precedent for human domination of the natural world. This leads to an analysis of the pastoral trope and notions of land ownership, through which the narrators of Sebald's and Beckett's writing hope to elide the human/nature division so that they might escape the dehumanising influence of the modern city, and the ecophobic worldview preserved within it.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Arts and Humanities (Sheffield) > School of English (Sheffield)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.668304
Depositing User: Mr Michael Bates
Date Deposited: 27 Oct 2015 12:08
Last Modified: 03 Oct 2016 12:19
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/10501

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