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Title: The spirit of the stones and the literature of landscape : defining 'landscape writing' through the work of Tim Robinson, Robert Macfarlane, Anne Dillard and W.G. Sebald
Author: Cromie, Martin
ISNI:       0000 0004 6061 950X
Awarding Body: Queen's University Belfast
Current Institution: Queen's University Belfast
Date of Award: 2016
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The PhD comprises two parts: the creative writing element entitled The Spirits of the Stones, and a critical commentary. The Spirit of the Stones is a work of literary non-fiction which explores a number of rural townlands in South Armagh. The work is structured as a series of interlinked essays reflecting upon different aspects of the landscape and exploring the author’s personal links to the area. Much of the writing is prompted by walks the author has made through each townland. There are two recurring motifs which provide threads of continuity: the author’s family ties to the townlands which extend back to the late sixteenth-century; and the granite stones of the landscape in their natural form and in their usage by man since the Neolithic Age. Both motifs provide focal points for each section. The Critical Commentary seeks to define landscape writing through the works of a number of authors.Tim Robinson’s series of writings on the Aran Islands, including maps and gazetteers, are analysed from the point of view of their structure: how the works follow the landscape as journeys along which Robinson explores archaeology, history, geology, mythology and cartography in order to give a deep sense of place. Study of Robert Macfarlane’s The Old Ways will focus on the metaphors of ‘walking’ and ‘pathways’ as vehicles for structuring the act of writing. W. G. Sebald’s work is considered because of its use of illustration and photographs, extensive use of ‘digressions’, the connections the author makes between seemingly unrelated subjects, the themes of desolation and rootlessness and the deliberateness with which the author strives to avoid having his work ‘categorised’ into a specific genre. Finally, the writing of Annie Dillard is explored as an example of contemporary ‘landscape’ writing which adopts a theological or spiritual perspective in its reflective style and its close attention to minutely observed details from which broad philosophical conclusions are drawn about the author’s perception of her place in the world.
Supervisor: Litvack, Leon ; Carson, Ciaran Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available