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‘On the Cusp of Devotion’: Christian Forms and Difficulties in Geoffrey Hill

Potter, M (2020) ‘On the Cusp of Devotion’: Christian Forms and Difficulties in Geoffrey Hill. PhD thesis, University of York.

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This thesis investigates the theological underpinnings of Geoffrey Hill’s work, by focusing on how Christianity inflects his poetry, and the rhetoric of his sermons. Christianity is a constant presence pervading Hill’s work, but the way in which it is allowed to shape his poetical writings and sermons is highly particular and at times unorthodox. Hill’s approach to Christianity rejects an unquestionable espousal of doctrine, and is instead crystallised around a process of exploration of faith as anchored in immediate experience. The abstraction of theological thought and doctrine is made material within the poetic act, and within the rhetoric of his sermons. Hence his poetry tackles Christianity in a materially-engaged manner and engages with particular artistic and devotional forms in an attempt to concretise the intangibility of the divine. This thesis explores architecture, music, and prayer, as three artistic and devotional forms, which emerge as fundamental in anchoring his theological thought in the materiality of experience and of the natural world. In his sermons, theology is explored in a similarly engaged way, with his rhetorical choice being carefully considered, and religious exposition often hinging on a more immediate domain, such as literature, history, and Hill’s personal experience of faith. The material anchoring of his poems and sermons, considered together, provides a new and useful lens into how Christianity finds its way into Hill’s thought and works.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of York > English and Related Literature (York)
Depositing User: Dr M Potter
Date Deposited: 12 Feb 2020 10:22
Last Modified: 12 Feb 2020 10:22
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/25877

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