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Title: 'If I listen, I can hear' : Derek Walcott and place
Author: Jefferson, Ben Thomas
ISNI:       0000 0004 2723 670X
Awarding Body: University of Essex
Current Institution: University of Essex
Date of Award: 2012
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This thesis examines place in the poetry of Derek Walcott. Through the close reading of a number of key topoi in Walcott's poetry, this thesis investigates the meanings that Walcott associates with different places. Threaded through these investigations, and forming the main argument, this thesis asserts that Walcott privileges place over space. Walcott rejects 'space' as an invention and abstract 'design' associated with colonial dominion and with neocolonial practices. For Walcott, space, as an abstraction, disavows local experience. Because of this, privileging space knowingly or unknowingly attempts to rid marginalised or oppressed people of their agency. In his poetry, Walcott consistently emphasises embodied ways of knowing, and draws upon human experience as an appropriate, and often counterhegemonic, form of knowledge. Walcott has consistently shown that one person's space is in fact another person's place, and suggests that, because of this, space is imagined over place. Drawing on the works of Edward Casey and phenomenology, this thesis argues that the idea that place precedes space goes against many academic discourses that assume the contrary. Walcott consistently draws his reader's attention to plant and animal life in association with place, and in doing so counteracts anthropocentric definitions of place. Reading Derek Walcott's poetry with an emphasis on place and experiential or a posteriori knowledge creates room for new critical readings of Walcott's work. Specifically, emphasis on place helps to contextualise Walcott's emphasis on the Caribbean as 'nothing' and of the Caribbean people's Adamic relationship with the landscape. This thesis argues that Walcott's notion of place is inherently political: most obviously, the poet's ideas concerning place form part of his arsenal in the very real fight against the multinational hotel/tourist industry's incursion on, and appropriation of, Caribbean sites. This thesis shows that Walcott's project of investing uninhabited landscapes with a sense of place, and blurring the delineations between privileged sites such as churches and "open space/' Walcott challenges the forces that operate within the Caribbean as a consumable, commodified space.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available