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Human and nonhuman in Anglo-Saxon and British postwar poetry: reshaping literary ecology

Price, Helen (2013) Human and nonhuman in Anglo-Saxon and British postwar poetry: reshaping literary ecology. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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Abstract

This thesis examines the interaction between human and nonhuman from an ecologically oriented perspective. It reads Anglo-Saxon poetic texts, particularly the Anglo-Latin and Exeter Book riddles, the Old English elegies, and Beowulf alongside a selection of British postwar poetry. Reading these bodies of work in dialogue with one another reveals models of knowledge encoded by these poetic texts, which challenges how we think about human and nonhuman interaction, regarding both Anglo-Saxon culture and our culture today. Beginning with an examination of technology in the thinking of Martin Heidegger and in Anglo-Saxon culture (ch. 1), I examine the process of writing, considering how poems engage with the materiality of the writing process and how interactions between human and nonhuman are explored both within poetic texts and through poetry itself, with reference to Anglo-Saxon riddles (ch. 2); the rhizomatic assemblages that constitute the ground both in riddles and in the work of Seamus Heaney, Basil Bunting, and Geoffrey Hill (ch. 3); Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and Simon Armitage’s translation, alongside Hill’s Mercian Hymns (ch. 4); and the use of inscribed stones by Armitage, alongside the Exeter Book elegies (ch. 5). This thesis demonstrates that Anglo-Saxon poetry engages with environment more dynamically than has previously been suggested, creating its own series of literary ecologies. It also argues that the style and form of Anglo-Saxon poetry can influence the poetic construction of human and nonhuman interaction today. Engaging with ecomaterialism, including ideas of Actor-Network Theory, object-oriented ontology, and Deleuze and Guattari’s rhizomatic model, I interrogate the philosophies of Martin Heidegger, which have held a problematic place in ecocritical thinking and discussion. The interactions within and between Old English and British postwar poetry can provide alternative models of human and nonhuman interaction which speak with rather than for nonhumans, opening insights into the place of poetry in a time of anthropogenic crisis.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts (Leeds) > School of English (Leeds)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.617126
Depositing User: Repository Administrator
Date Deposited: 29 Jul 2014 11:06
Last Modified: 25 Nov 2015 13:45
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/6607

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