Unenclosed Forms: English Enclosure and the Ecological Imaginaries of Thomas Hardy and Virginia Woolf
Shannon, Mary Bridget
Hensley, Nathan K
Building on contemporary scholarship in the environmental humanities and the rethinking of nature in the grip of ecological catastrophe, this project examines the late Victorian and modernist novel and explores how writers grappled with and gave form to the legacies of English enclosure in British landscapes. Whereas the English countryside remained mostly open in 1700, the majority was enclosed by the mid-nineteenth century, dramatically transforming not only the landscapes and social relations of the countryside, but their aesthetic representations as well. Much research has attended to these material changes, however as literary scholar Zach Fruit argues, “Perhaps undertheorized... are the visual and aesthetic effects of enclosure, and the innovative literary methodologies that metabolized and disrupted these material transformations.” Taking up this challenge, this project examines how the landscapes of enclosure are unevenly naturalized and unsettled in the novels of Thomas Hardy and Virginia Woolf. Examining the traces of enclosure in these later periods, I consider, firstly, how enclosure and its forms are inscribed in modern ways of seeing, thinking, and being in natural and social worlds, and secondly, how Hardy and Woolf unsettle the forms of enclosure and empire in their representations of English land- and seascapes. Specifically, I attend to Hardy’s temporalities and innovations on pastoral conventions in Far from the Madding Crowd (1874); his entangling of characters, land, and trees in The Woodlanders (1887); and Woolf’s imagining of aqueous ways of being in The Waves (1931). I unearth the ecological perspective in these writers’ “unenclosed” imaginaries, arguing for the necessity of such ecological thinking in the struggle to transform our climatological present.
Embargo Lift Date
Showing items related by title, author, creator and subject.