‘The scene of our constant negotiation’: tracing the development of Kathleen Jamie’s ecopoetic sensibility

Rae, Rebecca (2021) ‘The scene of our constant negotiation’: tracing the development of Kathleen Jamie’s ecopoetic sensibility. MPhil(R) thesis, University of Glasgow.

Full text available as:
Download (784kB) | Preview


This thesis traces the development of an ecopoetic sensibility in Kathleen Jamie’s works from The Golden Peak: Travels in North Pakistan (1992) to Surfacing (2019). Close readings of key poems and essays will be carried out in order to examine the continuities and developments that form this sensibility, showing that the overtly ecological themes of Jamie’s later work grow out of and are informed by her earlier work, and that the socio-political issues (primarily regarding gender and nationality) that are central in the earlier work are still present in the later work and form an important part of her ecopoetic sensibility, departing from a critical tendency to separate Jamie’s oeuvre into discrete stages. Attention will be paid throughout to the ways in which Jamie uses language to mediate with the non-human, with a particular focus on her ever-evolving use of Scots in this process.

This thesis will draw upon contemporary discourses of ecopoetics and ecocriticism as well as the writings of twentieth-century philosopher Martin Heidegger which have influenced these fields. Timothy Morton’s theory of the ecological mesh will emerge as a particularly useful framework through which to understand Jamie’s work, with its prioritisation of points both of interconnection and difference between the human and the non-human.

Jamie has been quoted as saying, ‘People sometimes say writing is about “expressing oneself”, which is ridiculous. It is the scene of our constant negotiation.’ This thesis seeks to prioritise the many negotiations Jamie undertakes, and her commitment to reengaging with these negotiations, over any kind of rigid conclusions or endpoints. This is reflected in its title, which identifies a fluid, shifting ecopoetic ‘sensibility’ in Jamie’s output, rather than a fixed methodology. The aim of this work is to demonstrate that a reading of Jamie’s work that prioritises interconnection, negotiation, tension, and open-endedness, as her writing does, is more fruitful than readings that attempt to impose fixed arguments upon it.

Item Type: Thesis (MPhil(R))
Qualification Level: Masters
Keywords: Kathleen Jamie, ecopoetics, ecocriticism, Scottish literature, nature writing, ecological mesh.
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PE English
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN0080 Criticism
P Language and Literature > PR English literature
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Critical Studies > Scottish Literature
Supervisor's Name: Gibson, Dr. Corey and Riach, Professor Alan
Date of Award: 2021
Depositing User: Rebecca Rae
Unique ID: glathesis:2021-82203
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 21 May 2021 10:46
Last Modified: 21 May 2021 10:46
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.82203
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/82203

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year