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Place and its relations in late twentieth century cultural theory and British fiction

By Stephen Paul Hardy


The dissertation presents a descriptive analysis of aspects of British fictional\ud writing prefaced by a comparative analysis of cultural theory concerned with\ud questions of place and socio-spatial relations-The general aim is to show how\ud both the theory and the fiction negotiate elements of a relational poetics and\ud politics of place in the context of negatively homogenizing tendencies in socioeconomic\ud developments during the last thirty years of the twentieth century. In\ud the first part, the writers of cultural theory are divided into three preliminary\ud areas, covering primarily Marxist, post-structuralist and environmentalist\ud approaches to questions of place and its relations. The second and third\ud parts then provide more detailed consideration of novels by Raymond Williams\ud and lain Sinclair which have so far not been accorded substantial critical\ud attention. The aim is to show how their approaches in the novels considered\ud converge with aspects of the theory discussed in the opening part of the\ud dissertation. In all cases, the writers are presented as producing 'partial\ud mappings'. These are seen as offering perspectives of sufficient scope to\ud provide effective criticism of, and possible alternatives to, negative and\ud disorientating aspects of social relations affected by tendencies in capital\ud accumulation which might be seen as endangering elements of social justice and\ud equality, cultural heterogeneity, and ecological viability. The first part includes\ud consideration of the poet Charles Olson and a related aim is to suggest how\ud novels such as those by Williams and Sinclair might provide a significant\ud complement to both theory and modem epic poetry in relation to questions of\ud place

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