Date

5-1-2020

Description

Hilda Doolittle's Sea Garden (1916) and Marianne Moore's Observations (1924) feature natural landscapes and animals that raise questions about the cultural and scientific categories humans employ to interpret nature. More specifically, the poems contained in these collections provoke visions that are noticeably "off" in terms of our predominant narratives about the natural world visions that are, in essence, a little bit queer. To read these poetic visions, this paper thus draws on queer theory, a methodology that is fundamentally about calling into question the "normal" while also unsettling the givenness of our conceptual viewpoints of the world. To this, it then adds more recent theoretical work on queer ecology, a field of study that interrogates the categories of "human" and "nature" in order to question what this binary separation of the human from the supposedly non-human world reveals about their deeper interrelationship. Such a framework allows us to see how H.D. and Moore's poetry queers aspects of formal convention, radically challenging, for example, the idea that the lyric speaker is even a human being, so as to undermine the very assumptions that go into the umbrella category of nature. In doing so, H.D. and Moore's queer ecologies contest what we have come to classify as the natural world and its manifold materials and inhabitants in a way that also comes back around to offer fresh insights into the very "nature" of queer theory as a human-centered epistemology.

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May 1st, 12:00 AM

Nature's Natural Queerness: Queer Ecologies in H.D's Sea Garden and Marianne Moore's Observations

Hilda Doolittle's Sea Garden (1916) and Marianne Moore's Observations (1924) feature natural landscapes and animals that raise questions about the cultural and scientific categories humans employ to interpret nature. More specifically, the poems contained in these collections provoke visions that are noticeably "off" in terms of our predominant narratives about the natural world visions that are, in essence, a little bit queer. To read these poetic visions, this paper thus draws on queer theory, a methodology that is fundamentally about calling into question the "normal" while also unsettling the givenness of our conceptual viewpoints of the world. To this, it then adds more recent theoretical work on queer ecology, a field of study that interrogates the categories of "human" and "nature" in order to question what this binary separation of the human from the supposedly non-human world reveals about their deeper interrelationship. Such a framework allows us to see how H.D. and Moore's poetry queers aspects of formal convention, radically challenging, for example, the idea that the lyric speaker is even a human being, so as to undermine the very assumptions that go into the umbrella category of nature. In doing so, H.D. and Moore's queer ecologies contest what we have come to classify as the natural world and its manifold materials and inhabitants in a way that also comes back around to offer fresh insights into the very "nature" of queer theory as a human-centered epistemology.