'Out from under the body politic': poetry and government in the work of C.H. Sisson, 1937-1980

King, Henry Marcus (2013) 'Out from under the body politic': poetry and government in the work of C.H. Sisson, 1937-1980. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Printed Thesis Information: https://eleanor.lib.gla.ac.uk/record=b3032022


This thesis explores the relationship between government and poetry in the verse, essays, and translations of Charles Hubert Sisson (1914-2003). Theories of sovereignty and government drawn from the work of Giorgio Agamben are used to interrogate these issues in Sisson’s critical and creative writing. Sisson’s work is contextualised within the politics of post-WWII Britain, taking in such issues as the altered relationship between the arts and the state, the decline of the British Empire and the subsequent influx of Commonwealth immigration, the changing status of the monarchy, and the importance of the environment.
The thesis is divided into five chapters. The first comprises a preliminary theoretical excursus, focussing on poems by Sisson and C. Day Lewis. The second analyses Sisson’s portrayal of the country and the city, and his own position in relation to them. The third places Sisson’s work in the context of the changing nature of laureateship in the era 1945-1976, comparing his work with that of Philip Larkin and C. Day Lewis. The fourth investigates the politics of translating Virgil after the Second World War, and especially after Enoch Powell’s ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech of April 1968. The final chapter returns to Sisson’s wartime and immediately post-war writings, especially on the subject of India, before moving on to the poems collected in Exactions (1980).

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Additional Information: Michael Schmidt was primary supervisor for this project in its first two years (2010-12), prior to his move to the University of Cambridge.
Keywords: Poetry, translation, fiction, criticism, government, sovereignty, body politic, C.H. Sisson, C. Day Lewis, Philip Larkin, Donald Davie, Geoffrey Hill, Giorgio Agamben, Petrarch, Arts Council, Horace, Virgil, Enoch Powell, George Orwell
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PR English literature
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts & Humanities > School of Critical Studies > English Literature
Supervisor's Name: Williams, Dr Rhian and Coyle, Dr John
Date of Award: 2013
Depositing User: Dr Henry King
Unique ID: glathesis:2013-4985
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 10 Apr 2014 15:23
Last Modified: 10 Apr 2014 15:37
URI: https://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/4985

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