Experiments in Ecocriticism
: Ted Hughes and Seamus Heaney

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This is a reading of two Anglophone poets, Seamus Heaney and Ted Hughes. The analysis is grounded in 'ecocriticism'. More than just critical analysis, ecocriticism seeks to draw out the relationship between poets and their environments. On a more general basis, ecocriticism addresses the relationship between nature and culture in a wider sense. This thesis follows both these strains. It brings out ideas about nature-human relations expressed in Hughes's and Heaney's poems. It also uses those same poems to make visible ways in which a certain set of ecocritical theories illuminate ideas, positions and developments with regard to the relationship between nature and culture, especially as framed by environmental crisis. It is the ambition of the thesis to pursue these two aims simultaneously, and to say something both about Hughes and Heaney as eco-poets, and about theoretical developments in the ecocritical field.
These distinguished poets, a Nobel Prize-winning Irishman, Seamus Heaney
(1939-), and Ted Hughes (1930-1998), one of the 20th century's great English poets, were both born in the troubled years of the 1930s. Their lives follow the accelerating environmental crises of the 20th century. Both have been well-studied by critical thinkers before, but this thesis seeks to read their poems afresh for their understandings of local places and global crisis in the century of the environment.
Date of Award2013
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • King's College London
SupervisorRichard Kirkland (Supervisor) & Greg Garrard (Supervisor)

Cite this