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Making Beauty: Basil Bunting and the Work of Poetry

HAYNES, ANNABEL,STELLA (2015) Making Beauty: Basil Bunting and the Work of Poetry. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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This thesis investigates the representation of labour in the poetry of Basil Bunting, an aspect of his oeuvre hitherto critically overlooked, partly because of his avowed wish to keep politics out of poetry. Bunting constantly regarded the composing of poetry as work, and related the work of the poet to that of the traditional craftsman or skilled manual labourer. This conviction that poetry is work undermines his claim that his writing is apolitical, for work inevitably involves politics. Thus this thesis aims to demonstrate that political notions of work inform the form and prosodic techniques of Bunting’s poetry as well as its thematic content. While his subject matter ranges from mining disasters, money and music hall, through to Persian myths, the universalising theme of work is present throughout. His presentations of artisanal, agricultural, industrial and artistic forms of work and, significantly, his gendered treatment of domestic labour, are all addressed in this thesis.

Looking at the poet in this new light entails a study of the background to his views about labour. The first part reads his early and later work alongside theories of labour by Marx and William Morris, and also investigates his correspondence with the leftist activist Objectivist poets. The second part frames Bunting’s ‘alternative’ labour-focused modernism within the wider literary culture of the 1930s, with chapters on Bunting and Bloomsbury, on Bunting and Lorine Niedecker, and on his poetic portrayals of social inequality during the Depression era. The final part examines Bunting’s role as a master-craftsman: it considers, firstly, his, and Pound’s, anti-institutional models for poetic schooling, and, secondly, the work of one of his most important ‘apprentices’, Tom Pickard.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:20th Century; 21st Century; Basil Bunting; Poetry; Modernism; Late modernism; Labour; Work; Craft; Objectivists; Objectivism; William Morris; Karl Marx; Ezra Pound; Feminism; WW1; Lorine Niedecker; Place; Landscape; Environment; Disaster; Depression Era; Poetic Pedagogy and Apprenticeship; Tom Pickard;
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > English Studies, Department of
Thesis Date:2015
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:17 Jun 2015 11:46

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