Date of Award

Spring 5-22-2019

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Departments/Programs

English

First Advisor

Alan Vardy

Second Advisor

Dow Robbins

Academic Program Adviser

Janet Neary

Abstract

John Clare’s poetry emphasizes an affinity with environment by suspending the distinction between the inside (subject) and the outside (object). Clare’s identification with objects and perception rather than subjects and aesthetics renders his work as a prescient and radical example of ecological poetry in the Romantic period. Raymond Williams’ “green language” and Timothy Morton’s ambient poetics both cite Clare as an ideal figure for their above theories and evoke Clare as a writer who positions the environment as governing thought rather than thought governing the environment. This thesis especially relates Clare to Morton’s Ecology without Nature, a study of environmental aesthetics that displaces anthropocentricism and logocentrism with object-oriented ontology (OOO) and an immersion into environmental ambience. This thesis is divided into four sections, each structured by a dichotomy with a hegemonic enclosure of subjects and objects on one side and an alternative remedy that Clare gestures his readers towards. Clare’s poems frame the creation and consumption of literature as a direct connection to our immediate surroundings and by identifying with objects, detects this circumambient and sometimes mundane space as active and sublime. Finally, the arche-writing of Jacques Derrida establishes the written word as an environment not dissimilar to forests and fields and establishes Clare’s poems as a way to sense the environment as coded rather than empty. My correspondence between Derrida’s a priori arche-writing with Clare’s poetics indicates Clare’s successfully representation of uncompromised objects in space rather than objects as inextricably linked to logocentrism’s dominating signifiers and anthropocentric rationality.

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