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Title: The Shamanic and Bardic Traditions in Contemporary British Poetry.
Author: Mortuza , Shamsad
ISNI:       0000 0001 3426 6374
Awarding Body: Birkbeck (University of London)
Current Institution: Birkbeck (University of London)
Date of Award: 2008
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The thesis examines the shamanic in poetry by exploring the work of five late modernist British poets: lain Sinclair, Jeremy Prynne, Brian Catling, Barry MacSweeney, and Maggie O'Sullivan. These poets are committed to. a radical aesthetic that questions the symbolic ordering of reality_ Loosely drawing on Mircea Eliade's notion of shamanism as 'archaic techniques of ecstasy,' they transform Eliade's version of the shaman's 'elective trauma' in order to enact a critical rejection of totalitarian tools of the state and society. I have used Sinclair's idea of the 'Shamanism of Intent' to frame three of the poets (Prynne, Catling, and Sinclair) as, in Rothenberg's phrase, 'Technicians of the Sacred' in order to highlight their intention to wrest spirituality away from the confines of religion and embody it in textual practice. This process involves an investigation and enlisting of 'hidden' energies - past and present. I have interpreted MacSweeney and O'Sullivan in terms of their attitude towards the body where it stands as a figure of the material (i.e. social and textual) and the . physical (i.e. individuals). While MacSweeney shows the physical body dismembered in a double gesture which exposes the destructive force of society and at the same time evokes the scattered body of Dionysian ritual, Maggie O'Sullivan dissects the body of her text to observe its gestation (i.e. the birth oflanguage). The process rather than the artistic product is important. Based on these criteria, I have discussed these two poets under the category of 'Technicians of the Body.' The poets studied refrain from branding their poetic practice as shamanic, to avoid possible fetishisation andexoticisation of their chosen project. My categorisation, however, is supported by the numerous engagements with shamanic elements in their work. In a broader literary context, I discuss how contemporary uses of the shamanic relate to the English Romantic poets' selective interpretation of shamanic and bardic ideas of the poet. At the same time I argue that the contemporary poets' use of shamanic elements involves a shared critique of myth.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available