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Title: The polar sublime in contemporary poetry of Arctic and Antarctic exploration
Author: Jackson, Andrew Buchanan
ISNI:       0000 0004 7224 1401
Awarding Body: Sheffield Hallam University
Current Institution: Sheffield Hallam University
Date of Award: 2015
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In this thesis I formulate the concept of a polar sublime, building on the work of Chauncy Loomis and Francis Spufford, and use this new framework for the appraisal of contemporary polar-themed poetry. I trace the continuing presence of the Miltonic and Romantic sublimes in these poems, and suggest that Lyotard's ideas on the sublime in relation to the avant-garde are of particular relevance to lyrical expressions of indeterminacy. Expanding on Lyotard's emphasis on temporality and the sublime, I suggest that a particularly modem planetary sublime is evidenced in some of these poems, one which acknowledges the vast scales of geological time or inter-stellar space and which arises from encounters, real or textual, with the polar regions. The polar sublime is further developed by taking Kristeva's concept of the abject in order to identify a textual sublime in these poems, many of which highlight the extreme physical suffering of the explorers and the disgusting food they occasionally had to eat. This new reading of Kristeva is extended to formulate the concept of the 'polar body', a vulnerable entity which, like the explorer-body, is viewed as an increasingly abject form by contemporary poets. I look at poems written in English and published after 1970 whose subject matter is Arctic and Antarctic exploration, ranging from Sir John Franklin's first attempts to discover the Northwest Passage in 1819 to Sir Earnest Shackleton's Endurance expedition of 1914-1917. In addition, I consider poems which recount poets' personal experiences of the Antarctic continent. Poets discussed include Bill Manhire, Chris Orsman, Elizabeth Bradfield, Sarah Lindsay, David Solway, James Pollock, Melinda Mueller, Gwendolyn MacEwen, Samantha Wynne-Rhydderch, Sheenagh Pugh, Katharine Coles, W.S. Graham, and Derek Mahon. My own creative work, a collection of poems, includes a series devoted to the legend of Saint Brendan and his sea voyage in search of an earthly paradise. I follow the Middle Dutch version of Brendan (c. 1400), and the use of this grand, heroic narrative as a framework reflects contemporary poets' reworking of polar exploration histories. In these poems, the perilous Romantic quest narrative includes both sublime and abject figures and draws on my own experience of sailing round the Arctic islands of Svalbard during the summer of 2015.
Supervisor: Earnshaw, Steve ; Riordan, Maurice ; Hopkins, Chris Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available