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Praise of Ruin

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Praise of Ruin

Gaston, Lise (2012) Praise of Ruin. Masters thesis, Concordia University.

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Abstract

My project interrogates linguistic and visual representations of landscape and of the body, examining the tension of encountering the “natural” through a proscribed set of cultural and aesthetic expectations. The implicit discourse that informs these poems is the picturesque, the eighteenth-century aesthetic movement that situated itself alongside categories of the beautiful and sublime, and determined how artists and tourists viewed and evaluated landscape. In conversation with the major theorists of this aesthetic, my poems question the role of the modern viewing subject in unfamiliar or encountered landscapes and in scenes of contemporary environmental decay. Each section applies a loose framework of representation to diverse landscapes of the river, the coast, the city, and the “bonescape” of the body. The first section challenges the picturesque's privileging of ruin as an aesthetic imposed by the viewer on the landscape; the second section uses the frame of the convex mirror as a technology of sight that renders the view unified and contained; the third shows how the body invites and resists narratives of medicalization as it performs its own decay; finally, the poems in the last section move toward a coastal landscape, pushing up against the aural demands of the listening subject and of the land itself. In dialogue with historical and cultural acts of writing and seeing, the speakers of the poems attempt to establish a subjective position within nature while acknowledging their lack of solid ground: voicing a desire for the possibility of home within conditions of homelessness.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > English
Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Authors:Gaston, Lise
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:M.A.
Program:English
Date:13 April 2012
Thesis Supervisor(s):Camlot, Jason
ID Code:973800
Deposited By:LISE MICHEL GASTON
Deposited On:19 Jun 2012 14:47
Last Modified:19 Jun 2012 14:47
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