Edward Thomas as the Superfluous Man

Saturday 3rd October, 1pm.

This talk considers Thomas's depiction of himself in his autobiographical prose and poetry as a 'superfluous man' in the light of new ideas about social welfare during the late 19th and early 20th century.

It will argue that Thomas's deployment of this archetype from Russian literature offers a critique of a narrow concept of social progress focused on Liberal-productivism and imperial expansion, as well as allowing him to voice his doubts about his own usefulness. Ultimately, Thomas finds in literature, and especially in poetry, a way of reconnecting to both the cultural and natural environments of the time.

This talk is given by Anna Stenning: Anna Stenning is a Wellcome Trust Research Fellow in the Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Leeds. Her interests include nature writing, poetry and life writing, and her current research is in the field of the medical humanities and autism. The question that she returns to in these different fields is: in what ways are our experiences of the natural world a part of our sense of ourselves as human? She is co-editor, with David Borthwick and Pippa Marland, of Walking, Landscape and Environment (2019); and of Neurodiversity Studies: A New Critical Paradigm with Hanna Bertilsdotter-Rosqvist and Nick Chown. Her first sole-authored book is Edward Thomas: A Miscellany.

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