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Title: Poetry on the edge of chaos : the 'ecosystem' and the 'ecotext'
Author: Ambler-Alderman, Rosalind Sarah Rachel
ISNI:       0000 0004 6497 1367
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 2017
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Avant garde poetry in America and Britain in the later 20th century can be read as an index of cultural and scientific change, recording how notions that inform or derive from the ‘ecosystem’ concept, from the superorganism to systems science to complexity theory, acquired traction in both literary and other discourses. It also records the stirrings of ecological fear in the aftermath of conflict. By virtue of its countercultural positioning and innovative practices, this poetry was in a position to interrogate the dominant cultural models and orthodox science of its time, to envision new possibilities for engaging with the environment, and to enter into ecological debates. Poets such as Louis Zukofsky and T.S. Eliot engaged in a reciprocal dynamic of influence with systems scientists, such as Norbert Wiener and R. Buckminster Fuller, whilst Gary Snyder substantively engaged with the work of the ecologist Eugene Odum. The Language writer Lyn Hejinian has created an instructive synthesis of ecological ideas and philosophy in her work. Contemporary poets such as Juliana Spahr, Marcella Durand and the British poet Colin Simms continue, directly or indirectly, to interrogate scientific models in their poetry. This thesis will explore the epistemic transmission of the ‘ecosystem’, a key ecological concept richly loaded with metaphor and myth, and will use it to explore the connections and disparities between how we think of biological systems and how we think of ecopoetry. In a hybrid approach, Poetry on the Edge of Chaos will consider how poets have engaged directly with the problematic history of the ‘ecosystem’, and will also question the validity of the ecocritical convention of comparing poems and ecosystems. It will consider whether, beyond analogy, there is a true homology here because both textual and biological systems are complex systems, and, if so, what this might tell us about how we read environments and how we read texts. This thesis will consider whether a cross-domain mapping presaged upon complex texts and complex ecologies sheds light upon texts, ecosystems or scientific paradigms, and extends our reasoning in either discourse. In so doing Poetry on the Edge of Chaos will seek to suggest ways in which, alongside the work of the sciences, writing, reading, and studying poetry continue to be relevant in an age of ecological uncertainty.
Supervisor: Middleton, Peter ; Jones, Stephanie Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available