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Title: Contemporary pastoral : Sean O'Brien, Peter Didsbury, Michael Hofmann ; and, Original poetry collection
Author: Williams, Anthony David Henry
ISNI:       0000 0004 2681 5996
Awarding Body: Sheffield Hallam University
Current Institution: Sheffield Hallam University
Date of Award: 2009
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Landscape reflects and informs the history which shapes it, the society of which it forms a part, and the culture and identity of its inhabitants. An introduction provides a brief survey of contemporary pastoral poetry, identifying two main strands, the Romantic and the social-pastoral traditions. Further chapters discuss the relations between landscape, society, history and identity in the work of Sean O'Brien, Peter Didsbury and Michael Hofmann. Sean O'Brien's poetry depicts 'marginal' post-industrial locations both as the subjects of historical forces and as idyllic; interrogates received English idylls; and substitutes localised idylls based in childhood experiences. Peter Didsbury draws on similar landscapes and a similar sensibility, but shows a more oblique engagement with history and poetic tradition; his treatment of landscape and local identity is also notable for its religious and rhetorical elements; and his creation of pastoral idylls is located resolutely in the contemporary here-and-now. The tenor of Michael Hofmann's work is different: his landscapes are typically dystopian; rather than drawing on a local identity determined by landscape, childhood experience or local culture, his work shows a gap between the idylls and narratives of European high culture and the contemporary world as experienced locally; and his use of temporary homes as locations reflects his style's restless performance of temporary identity. The thesis is accompanied by a creative project consisting of two elements: a collection of shorter poems and an extended sequence. The former develops such themes as the identification of self and culture with a landscape, the religious treatment of place and provincial culture, and the outsider figure as an analogue of the marginal landscape; and such formal features as the Horatian ode, apostrophe, prosaic and metered lineation, and the collision of high rhetoric with prosaic contemporary subject matter. The latter develops various features of the pastoral through the narrative context of an inmate of a lunatic asylum in early twentieth-century Central Europe, drawing on the formal materials of outsider art as well as the content of the thesis.
Supervisor: Mills, Sara Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available