'Trope on Trope': Rethinking Nature Writing Pedagogy through Metaphor
Galleymore, Isabel Rose Loveday
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
This thesis examines the predominant strategies that are currently used to teach nature writing in Higher Education in the UK and US based on a series of interviews with educators. Investigating and drawing on recent developments in ecocriticism, it assesses the limitations of pedagogical instruction, highlights the challenges faced in representing the environment, and establishes the need for alternative strategies. This research concentrates upon the ways in which current nature writing pedagogy emphasises ‘direct perception’ that distinguishes between a literal, scientific writing on the one hand and a figurative, imaginative writing on the other, and values the former above the latter. It also reveals the disparity between pedagogical intentions to foster responsibility for the environment in their students, and the shortage of exercises that engage with the threats currently posed to environments. Challenging these practices, this thesis argues that metaphor – an inclusive term for a range of figurative devices such as apostrophe and anthropomorphism – can guide important engagements that lead to new understandings of the environment. Close readings of poetry by a number of contemporary poets from the UK and US lead this argument. These establish how each poet’s application of metaphor serves to draw attention towards particular qualities in materiality, different temporalities and places, nonhuman lives, and the issues affecting environments. Developing certain readings with twentieth-century metaphor theory further attests to the capacities of metaphor to guide new thinking. As nature writing courses and classes continue to be offered, this research proposes an alternative set of engagements that aim to enrich the relationship between the writer and the environment. A short collection of my poems, collected as an appendix, acts as further methodological investigation of metaphor in environmental representation. A second appendix demonstrates my interview methodology.
PhD in English