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Title: Reframing the picturesque in contemporary Australian and Canadian nature writing
Author: Ballantine, Jessica Louise
ISNI:       0000 0004 6349 9208
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 2016
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This thesis explores aesthetic representation in Australian and Canadian nature writing from the turn of the twenty-first century to the present day. I analyse nine representative texts to explore the relationship between aesthetic representation of the so-called natural environment and the texts’ central themes, which I identify as (i) belonging (in place) (ii) digging (uncovering colonial history), (iii) walking (pilgrimage), and (iv) working (ecological rehabilitation). In connection with each theme, I examine how the environment is perceived, how notions of aesthetic value are constructed around it, and how aesthetic language¬¬ contributes to the narrative and argument of the text. In so doing, I seek insight from contemporary environmental aesthetics as developed by philosophers including Allan Carlson, Yuriko Saito, and Arnold Berleant. I argue that recent nature writing from both Australia and Canada shows an increasingly self-conscious engagement with the politics of representation that is often characterised by anxiety on the part of the narrator about representation and the possibility of the ‘truthful framing’ of place. This leads recent writers to enquire (albeit with different levels of success) into the discourses that drive beliefs about the natural environment. Some writers put pressure on popular modes of perception such as the picturesque by disrupting conventional representational styles, while others use those popular modes as the basis for a normative model of aesthetics and a spur to action. I suggest that one of the distinctive features of recent Australian and Canadian nature writing is its critical engagement with ways of seeing and describing nature that were developed during the colonial period, in particular in debates surrounding picturesque aesthetics, which in turn influenced travel and nature writing. In this way, much of contemporary Australian and Canadian nature writing can be seen as engaging, either explicitly or implicitly, in a critical project of reframing the picturesque.
Supervisor: Huggan, Graham Sponsor: Centre for Canadian Studies, University of Leeds ; Canada-UK Foundation
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available