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Title: The new pastoral in contemporary British writing
Author: Lilley, Deborah
ISNI:       0000 0004 8497 6632
Awarding Body: Royal Holloway, University of London
Current Institution: Royal Holloway, University of London
Date of Award: 2014
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This thesis examines the appearance of pastoral in contemporary British writing and argues that a transformed version of pastoral can be seen to emerge in the period since 1990 in relation to ecological considerations. The work addresses the proposition that the representation and interpretation of environmental concerns calls up new circumstances for the pastoral to operate within, posing both an opportunity for the application of the conventions of the mode, and a threat to the principles upon which they are based. Analysing work by Robert Macfarlane, Roger Deakin, Paul Farley and Michael Symmons Roberts, Ali Smith, Jim Crace, Kathleen Jamie, Liz Jensen, Brian Clarke, Christopher Hart and John Burnside, the thesis explores both pastoral responses to ecological concerns and the impact of ecological concerns upon the form and scope of the pastoral, contending that in these examples, the pastoral is necessarily altered by their intersection. The thesis begins with a theoretical exposition of the premises of the work, locating the emergence of new versions of pastoral in relation to the legacies of the tradition, the development of environmental criticism and the influence of environmental anxieties upon recent British writing. Three thematic chapters then each identify a key aspect of the pastoral tradition employed and transformed in contemporary writing. The first, 'Escape into Nature', examines the ways that the pastoral dynamic of retreat into nature is approached as a response to environmental uncertainty using narratives of estrangement and reconciliation. The second, 'Pastoral Relations', discusses the treatment of the pastoral relationships between conceptions of urban and the rural and the human and the natural alongside environmental concerns. The third chapter, 'Crises in Pastoral', analyses the uses of pastoral in contemporary writing inspired by environmental crises. The final chapter concludes the study and argues that as the certainties of pastoral are called up and challenged by cognisance of environmental uncertainties in contemporary British writing, the key components of the mode are reimagined and reshaped. These adaptations mark new contemporary versions of the mode, provoking fresh consideration of the possibilities, as well as the limitations, of pastoral writing in relation to ecological concerns.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Pastoral ; Contemporary British Writing ; Contemporary British Fiction ; Nature Writing ; Ecocriticism ; Environmental Criticism