Nature, Environment and Poetry
Ecocriticism and the poetics of Seamus Heaney and Ted Hughes
The environmental challenges facing humanity in the twenty-first century are not only acute and grave, they are also unprecedented in kind, complexity and scope. Nonetheless, or therefore, the political response to problems such as climate change, biodiversity loss and widespread pollution continues to fall short. To address these challenges it seems clear that we need new ways of thinking about the relationship between humans and nature, local and global, and past, present and future. One place to look for such new ideas is in poetry, designed to contain multiple levels of meaning at once, challenge the imagination, and evoke responses that are based on something more than scientific consensus and rationale.
This ecocritical book traces the environmental sensibilities of two Anglophone poets; Nobel Prize-winner Seamus Heaney (1939-2013), and British Poet Laureate Ted Hughes (1930-1998). Drawing on recent and multifarious developments in ecocritical theory, it examines how Hughes's and Heaney's respective poetics interact with late twentieth century developments in environmental thought, focusing in particular on ideas about ecology and environment in relation to religion, time, technology, colonialism, semiotics, and globalisation.
This book is aimed at students of literature and environment, the relationship between poetry and environmental humanities, and the poetry of Ted Hughes or Seamus Heaney
Table of Contents
Introduction 1. Ecotrickster: Nature and Religion in Crow 2. Human History and Environmental Time: Postmodern nature in Heaney's bog poems 3. Technology and Landscape: Counter and recovery poems in Elmet 4. Colonised Nature: Heaney and postcolonial ecocriticism 5. Ecosemiotics: An anti-anthropocentrism in Hughes's animal poems 6. 'The Place in Me': Heaney, globalisation and sense of place Conclusions: Hughes, Heaney and the different natures of ecopoetics
Susanna Lidström is a postdoctoral researcher at the Division of History of Science, Technology and Environment, with the Environmental Humanities Laboratory, at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden.
"After the theoretical upheavals of the past five years or so, what is now needed in ecocritical scholarship is a book that takes account of these developments and applies them to texts we thought we knew. This is exactly what Lidström does, in an admirably clear, compelling style." –Adeline Johns-Putra, Chair, Association for the Study of Literature and Environment, UK and Ireland
"Lidström has written a lucid, wide-ranging ecocritical study of the most distinguished poets of the British Isles in the late 20th century. Her chief innovation is to orchestrate a subtle interplay between the poets’ collections and the theoretical frameworks they seem to require, rather than bashing them all into a single ecopoetic mould. The result is wonderfully illuminating."–Greg Garrard, University of British Columbia, Okanagan, USA
"Susanna Lidström creates a fascinating and timely study of Hughes and Heaney as ecopoets. Arguing that environmental issues have ‘changed the mind of poetry’, she draws exciting new insights from ecosemiotics, postcolonial ecocriticism, and theories of local and global to create an innovative and important new work."–Yvonne Reddick, University of Central Lancashire, UK
"Lidström’s clear and accessible study illuminates two versions of ecopoetics, one committed to anti-anthropocentric revelation of what lies beyond social and cultural constructions of nature, the other invested in the intertwining of nature and culture. Examining the poetry of Hughes and Heaney through six distinct methodological and thematic lenses, she valuably highlights the diversity of contemporary ecocritical practices."–Lynn Keller, University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA