Listening to the nonhuman: natural soundscapes in British poetry, 1960-2005

Lead Research Organisation: University of Bristol
Department Name: School of Humanities


Combining perspectives from ecocriticism and sound studies within a core literary focus, this project will attend to the representation of environmental soundscapes in British poetry of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, with a particularfocus on the writings of Ted Hughes, Peter Redgrove and Alice Oswald. It will explore the ways in which these poets figure soundscape both as an embodied, participatory experience of environments, and as an untranslatable encounter that registers nonhumanotherness. At the same time, the project will interrogate the ways in which poetic language might record the sonic characteristics of specific times and places. In addition to the composer Raymond Murray Schafer's notion of soundscape, I will apply the ideas of music theorists such as John Cage and Pauline Oliveros to my chosen texts in order to explore how listening to the nonhuman can suggest innovative approaches to poetic form and composition,and can point to a heightened empathy that counteracts Anthropogenic exploitation of 'nature'.


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