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‘Bodies of water’: The Ecofeminist Water Poetry of Jorie Graham and Alice Oswald

PENN, VICTORIA,JANE (2022) ‘Bodies of water’: The Ecofeminist Water Poetry of Jorie Graham and Alice Oswald. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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This thesis explores the water poetry of Jorie Graham and Alice Oswald as an ecofeminist response to the climate breakdown. I begin by situating Graham and Oswald’s work in the broader contexts of feminism, using foundational feminist voices to understand how female identity is formed, with a particular focus on the role of naming. I show how the notion of a coherent, lyric speaker, able to straightforwardly address that which they describe, is challenged by the ecopoetic understanding that we are inextricable from nature, and that this assumption of wholeness comes under particular strain in the context of the late-stage climate disaster.
By engaging with their predecessors in the genre of nature poetry, Graham and Oswald inhabit and depart from these foundational ways of being in and writing about nature. Graham continues the transcendentalist respect for nature but rejects the idealised pastoral ‘retreat’, and complicates the transcendentalist ideal of self-sufficiency. Oswald writes largely against the Romantic Egotistical Sublime, and favours poetry which attempts to speak from within nature. Through an extended exploration of Oswald’s Dart, I show how human identity is shaped by rivers, and how our dependence on this aqueous element is intertwined with our histories of place.
Through this in-depth exploration of water in Graham and Oswald’s poetry, I show how they both reflect human dependence on water and our interconnected identity as part of a wider whole, and how the climate emergency necessitates a wider acknowledgement of this multiplicity of identity.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > English Studies, Department of
Thesis Date:2022
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:04 Nov 2022 09:23

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