The New British Nature Writing: Seamus Heaney and Roger Deakin'sEcological Archive Open Access

Gearing, Jessica M. (2009)

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This thesis explores the idea, as proposed in the Summer 2008 issue of Granta, that British nature writing is a new nature writing with a generation of writers who "share a sense that we are devouring our world, that there is simply no longer any natural landscape or ecosystem that is unchanged by humans*." Contemporary British nature writing is new in that it focuses on human ecology instead of natural ecology; that it focuses on the way in which humans affect nature and are affected by nature instead of the way in which non-human organisms relate to their environment. Thus, this new nature writing tends to focus on the traditional agrarian lifestyle that has been replaced by commercial agriculture, the mythical and spiritual relationship between British landscapes and people, and relationship between power, land, and struggle. The object of this thesis is to examine (1) the way in which Seamus Heaney's poetry addresses both the Northern Irish landscape and the global environment, (2) the possibility of contemporary British nonfiction, specifically that of Roger Deakin, to restore local identity and inspire action, and (3) the relation of memory to action, art to ethics. Through a close reading Seamus Heaney's poetry to-date through the theoretical lens of memory established by Pierre Nora and a reading of Roger Deakin's literary nonfiction through the lens of Heideggarian dwelling, I question the role literature plays in preserving and remembering active sites of ecological memory and in urging ethical action. *Cowley, Jason."The New Nature Writing." Granta 102(2008).

Table of Contents

1. Introduction---7

2. Seamus Heaney: Memory and the Ecological Archive---22

3. Roger Deakin: The Act of Dwelling in Literature---46

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