Feeling nature : naturism, camping, environment and the body in Britain, 1920-1960
This thesis considers the interaction of human beings with the natural environment. In particular, it addresses the ways that naturists and light-weight campers encountered, understood and reflected upon the spaces, places and environments around them in the period between 1920 and the late 1950s. In considering 'outdoor cultures' and drawing upon humanistic geography and recent literature concerning issues of embodiment, sensuality, and body culture, my research raises a number of important questions. These include the importance of citizenship and the ethos of outdoor recreation in the inter-war and immediate post-war period, debates about the embodied experience of naturists and campers and, in turn, the ways in which Nature was represented within their reflexive accounts. In working through issues of sensuality, self, body culture and morality, the thesis contributes to ongoing geographical debates concerning the body and embodiment; sensing the environment and outdoor cultures; and experiences of space and place and the mutual constitution of nature and society in inter-war European cultures. Drawing upon empirical analysis of archival and historical texts, and upon oral histories, photographs, art and poetry I consider embodied experience as a 'situated' practice in relation to the moral geographies of citizenship and idealism evident in the inter-war and immediate post war periods. The thesis demonstrates that human experience is mediated, directed, and evaluated by a wealth of social, cultural and historical parameters and that naturists' and campers' experience shaped and was shaped by wider discourses of morality, health and self.