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Affective Topographies: Landscape and Subjectivity in the Work of Patrick Keiller, W.G. Sebald and Iain Sinclair

Anderson, David Christopher; (2017) Affective Topographies: Landscape and Subjectivity in the Work of Patrick Keiller, W.G. Sebald and Iain Sinclair. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London).

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Abstract

This thesis interrogates the relationship between landscape and subjectivity in the work of Patrick Keiller, W.G. Sebald and Iain Sinclair. In their work, it argues, depictions of England are mediated and modulated by an anxious preoccupation with the subjective experience of space and place, combined with a near-obsessive attentiveness to the peripheral and the ruined. In the process conventionalised notions of landscape and culture are variously criticised, adapted or dislodged, producing a distinctive set of variations on the ‘English journey’ for the end of the twentieth century. The work of Keiller, Sebald and Sinclair often takes the form of highly stylised reportage, self-consciously entangling ‘objective’ documentary with fictional tropes in its ordering and depiction of space. In this respect, as well as others, I claim that it symptomatises a particular cultural and political moment in English thinking about landscape and environment. The thesis explores this process by joining up recent developments in spatial theory and the ‘spatial turn’ with a heritage of critical melancholia, a fusion to some extent anticipated in the writings of Walter Benjamin. In this light it shows that, either implicitly or explicitly, my three subjects all produce something like a critical theory of contemporary space. This thesis is attuned to a distinct history of the creative appropriation of space, running through Surrealism and the Parisian Situationists: the term ‘affective topography’ itself is borrowed from Ian Walker’s 2002 study of Surrealist photography and documentary form in Paris, City Gorged With Dreams. Adapting this term to the field of ‘English psychogeography’, this thesis suggests ways that a dialectical relationship between dwelling and displacement has been exploited as a means to attempt the subject's re-orientation within the axiomatically disorientating conditions of contemporary modernity.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Affective Topographies: Landscape and Subjectivity in the Work of Patrick Keiller, W.G. Sebald and Iain Sinclair
Event: UCL
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10040447
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