Date of Degree
English Language and Literature | Philosophy
city, countryside, Burroughs, nature writing, poetry, rhythm, rhythmanalyst
Nature writer John Burroughs wrote about the rhythms of life in nature, people, and places, sharing his experiences of his surroundings for readers to learn from, get inspired by, or escape through. In this literature review, using Henri Lefebvre’s Rhythmanalysis, in which rhythm is the “interaction between a place, a time, and an expenditure of energy” (Lefebvre, 2004, p. 15), I explore some of Burroughs’ writing, asserting that Burroughs himself was a rhythmanalyst. Burroughs is typically read as a literary naturalist who hoped to relay any scene as it truly was (to perfect the “art of seeing things” or “writing the land”), but through Lefebvre, we can more fully understand Burroughs’ writing and how closely it paid attention to and championed rhythms to present stories in which people and nature coexist in a “dramatic becoming…of presences” (Lefebvre, 2004, p. 23). In addition to Burroughs’ work, I explore topics such as space and place ― including their effects on my own spatiotemporal autobiography regarding my experiences of the difference in rhythm of the city and countryside ― as well as place attachment, production and creativity, cyclical and cosmic rhythms, writing and poetry, and walking as a means of escaping certain socioeconomic rhythms to connect more closely with bodily ones, which are more like nature. While Lefebvre’s rhythmanalysis work has been used to illuminate a variety of topics across disciplines ― such as the different rhythms of spaces, poets, or slow cinema, among others ― recent readings of Burroughs have not fully connected his writing with Lefebvre’s method of analyzing the rhythms of spaces and the people and things in them.
MacDonald, Jennifer, "A Difference in Rhythm: John Burroughs as Rhythmanalyst" (2021). CUNY Academic Works.