The place of pastoral in contemporary British writing

2016-12-14T02:38:22Z (GMT) by Lilley, Deborah
<strong>Abstract: </strong>In the proliferation of recent writing about place in Britain, particular attention is given to the ways that places are represented and understood. These writings are inspired to look more closely, and more critically, at the places around us and the ways that we see them. In doing so, both the expectations and the experiences of places are registered and queried, and the connections and disjunctions between them come under scrutiny. In this essay, I examine the uses of pastoral in contemporary British writing about place and argue that the tradition plays a central role in the critical engagement with place underway there. Beginning by exploring the complex and often contradictory understanding of the relationship between pastoral and place alongside the similarly slippery notion of place itself, the essay then analyzes the appearance of the mode to depict and reflect upon place in a series of recent examples of creative non-fiction. In the process, I identify the potential of pastoral to both enact and expose the subjectivity of the perception and experience of place, and argue that this potential is exploited to open up the critical perspectives upon place that are present in contemporary writing.