28 Sep 2021
13:00  - 14:00

Englisches Seminar, Grosser Hörsaal


Bodily Encounters: Nature and Embodiment in British Poetry (2000-2017)

Michaela Frey (Universität Basel)

My project adds to a vibrant conversation in contemporary literary studies about the challenging nature of nature poetry in the twenty-first century. Due to an extensive exploitation and destruction of the environment, the experienced alienation of humans from nature has recently reached a critical point. In response, contemporary nature poetry projects alternative viewpoints that go beyond anthropocentric conceptualizations of the human-nature relation. Yet, authors face a dilemma: How to craft a language that does justice to our times of environmental crisis without falling back on mere idealising illusions?

The project explores British poetry by Alice Oswald, Sinéad Morrissey, Kathleen Jamie and Ruth Padel from the year 2000 onwards. Investigating how these texts re-establish the connections between humankind and nature, it sketches the contours of a new language for nature in the Anthropocene. Appropriating the insights of theoretical considerations from “Ecofeminism”, “New Materialism” and phenomenology, the project focuses on the poetic moments of encounter between human and non-human bodies as an experience of common corporeality. Drawing on conceptions of materiality, the emphasis on human and non-human corporeality offers poets a different take on nature and a renewed scrutiny of conceptions of nature as mere ‘Other’. Accordingly, it also examines to what extent a materialistic approach closes the gap between language and nature.

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