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The Sense of Space in a Small Country: Nature, Nation and Self in the Writing of John Burnside, Robin Robertson and Kathleen Jamie

Osgun, Colette Tulin; (2018) The Sense of Space in a Small Country: Nature, Nation and Self in the Writing of John Burnside, Robin Robertson and Kathleen Jamie. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

Issues of nationhood and place have been central to critical writing about twentieth century Scottish Literature. The recent independence referendum, along with devolutionary and nationalist political issues across Europe has lead to renewed interrogation of the concepts and outcomes of such movements and requires alternative explanations for their character and enduring application in Scotland. This thesis examines iterations of nation, nature and self in the works of John Burnside, Robin Robertson and Kathleen Jamie. It does so via a theoretical framework that utilises Timothy Morton’s theory of the ecological as a counterpoint to Romantic conceptions of the environment in order to posit a philosophy of being in the world that not only encompasses issues of environment and sustainability, but that sees itself as a way to examine the structures of built and social environments. The thesis attempts to show the ways in which the poets offer an ecocritical theory of space that proposes an optimistic and potentially radical understanding of the role and significance of nation, nature and self in contemporary poetry in the wake of large scale socio-political shifts in Scotland and the wider world. It finds that they use the ecological as a way to connect these concepts to issues of representation and responsibility in an attempt to offer a poetics that centres empathetic and interactive responses to such issues and tackles the damaging structures that currently uphold them. It argues that poetry is well placed to do so as it is a form that creates self-contained textual ecologies to examine and represent our wider material environments. This offers a contemporarily relevant way of examining nationalist and ecological subjects in recent Scottish poetry by aligning it to on-going sociopolitical and literary contexts.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: The Sense of Space in a Small Country: Nature, Nation and Self in the Writing of John Burnside, Robin Robertson and Kathleen Jamie
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10057302
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