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Durham e-Theses
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The Work of Elegy: Grief, Landscape, Perspective and Poetic Form

CLARKSON, RORY,BENJAMIN (2024) The Work of Elegy: Grief, Landscape, Perspective and Poetic Form. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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This study re-examines our understanding of twentieth and twenty-first-century British, Irish, and American elegies within the context of contemporary psychological and clinical perspectives on grief. Whilst the elegy has roots as far back as ancient Greece, contemporary criticism often has recourse to Freudian theories of loss and mourning, but these ideas can be reconsidered in the light of current intellectual perspectives on the experience of grief. A critical reconsideration of the elegy through the philosophical ideas of Thomas Attig helps to align traditional readings of the elegy with current thinking about the experience of grief. This study centres on poetic technique and form to re-evaluate our understanding of elegy as a traditional form and show how elegy persists, albeit in imaginatively revised forms, within the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.
Six poets — Amy Clampitt, Ted Hughes, Robert Lowell, Paul Muldoon, Wallace Stevens, and Anne Stevenson — form the backbone of this study, with selected poems from their oeuvres providing a range of poetic expressions of grief over the last century. Alongside these six poets, elegiac works from the twenty-first century by Anne Carson and Natasha Trethewey are also given due consideration. Their inclusion aims to revise and enrich our critical appreciation of the persistence and reinvention of grief, perspective, and landscape in elegies of the twentieth and twenty-first century. A revitalised critical sense of these elegiac concerns sharpens our sense of imaginative continuities and discontinuities between past elegies and their more recent modes of expression.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Poetry; Elegy; Grief; Mourning
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > English Studies, Department of
Thesis Date:2024
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:16 Apr 2024 12:37

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