Fitting manifestations: epiphany in Alice Oswald, Kathleen Jamie, Liz Berry and Joanne Dixon

Dixon, J. ORCID: 0000-0001-7932-8348, 2017. Fitting manifestations: epiphany in Alice Oswald, Kathleen Jamie, Liz Berry and Joanne Dixon. PhD, Nottingham Trent University.

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Epiphany in contemporary British poetry has received limited recent critical attention and is perceived reductively by some poets and critics as a uniform, coercive, teleological, and unchallenging literary mode. This thesis intervenes in current debates by asking how epiphany is presented on the page in my own poetry and in that of Alice Oswald, Kathleen Jamie and Liz Berry. Through new critical readings of recent collections published within a decade by these poets, I argue that contemporary poetry can engage with epiphanic modes that are more diverse than those typically suggested. Chapter 1 reviews scholarly definitions of epiphany and recent criticism, explains why Oswald, Jamie and Berry were selected for this study and outlines the creative-critical approach adopted. Chapter 2 analyses Oswald's collection, Woods etc., and demonstrates how individual poems present epiphanies that resist a teleological mode by engaging with uncertainty, the uncanny and liminality. Chapter 3 investigates how Jamie's attentiveness to the non-human world in The Overhaul, and the gap between that world and our own, produces epiphanies that embrace 'not knowing' and manifestations of consciousness. The analysis in Chapter 4 highlights how poems in Liz Berry's debut collection, Black Country, dissolve boundaries between the human and non-human realms and boundaries of poetic form, in contrast to readings which restrict epiphany to a straightforward and linear mode of writing. The close critical readings of the poems in these poet-centred chapters expand current thinking on epiphany; the concluding chapter then embodies this thinking. Chapter 5 is the creative conclusion to this thesis, comprising poems that engage with diverse epiphanies and are in dialogue with the different strands of the epiphanic mode explored throughout this thesis: creative, critical, historical and contemporary. The poems in Chapter 5 are not available via Nottingham Trent University's Institutional Repository (IRep); however, they will be published as a full collection, under the poet's name, Jo Dixon, in Autumn 2020 by Shoestring Press (

Item Type: Thesis
Creators: Dixon, J.
Date: November 2017
Rights: This work is the intellectual property of the author. You may copy up to 5% of this work for private study, or personal, non-commercial research. Any re-use of the information contained within this document should be fully referenced, quoting the author, title, university, degree level and pagination. Queries or requests for any other use, or if a more substantial copy is required, should be directed to the owner(s) of the Intellectual Property Rights.
Divisions: Schools > School of Arts and Humanities
Record created by: Linda Sullivan
Date Added: 09 Nov 2018 11:53
Last Modified: 08 Jan 2020 12:45

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