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Research paper: 'Primal Reach: Seamus Heaney and Romanticism'

Wednesday 13 May 2020, 4.30PM

Speaker(s): Professor Matthew Campbell (York)

In Heaney’s retrospective mode, ‘primal reach’ is figured as a personal and textual history which grants a certain authority to the peculiarities of individual lived and living experience. In his case it is rural, conducted in the social norms of everyday speech and subject-matter, syntactically and formally traditional but also recognisably aware of the physicality of the human body working in nature, affected by seasonal as much as historical or cultural patterns. This amounts to a state of being, an ontology, which is not merely the literary construction of the bucolic or Pastoral - no matter that Virgil’s Georgics are playing in the background. In his thinking about poetry and poets as well as in his own poetic practice, Heaney seeks individuation not just in the sense that he is the possessor of an authentic self, but in his companionship with others who shared that same sense of authenticity. Tradition - in its broadest sense across twentieth century post-Romantic poetics, encompassing both ideas of high culture and a continuously renewed engagement with folklife - is work of shared experience and association, antiquity and innovation, whether it be the agricultural or the ‘high literary’, the Ivy League seminar or the South Derry field.

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Location: Online.

Admission: Open to all; PhD and MA students warmly invited.