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Durham University

Department of English Studies

Event Archive

This is an archive of past events within the Department of English Studies. Please see our current events for forthcoming activities.

Some of our public events are recorded and are available as podcasts via our Research English At Durham blog.

Modelling the Self: 'North of Boston: Models of Identity, Subjectivity and Place in the Poems of Robert Frost,' by Professor Stephen Regan (Durham University)

5th February 2008, 18:15 to 19:15, Elvet Riverside 140

This lecture forms part of the Institute of Advanced Study's "Modelling the Self" series.

Professor Regan will look at how Frost created the New England of his poems, subtly establishing lines of continuity with British and American Romanticism while simultaneously harbouring profound philosophical doubts about inherited models of poetic subjectivity and imagination.

Although Robert Frost is generally regarded as a poet of rural New England, his earliest poems are troubled meditations on urban, industrial America. A Californian by birth, Frost fashioned a distinctive poetic locale as a way of coming to terms with problematic post-Romantic ideas about identity, subjectivity and place. His celebrated early volume of poems, North of Boston (1914), appears to ground his work in a precise location and a known community, but the poems themselves belie any secure sense of geography and any secure sense of attachment. Many of the poems were, in fact, composed in Buckinghamshire and Gloucestershire shortly before the outbreak of the First World War, and they reveal an acute awareness of British, as well as American, literary traditions and ideals. The lecture will look at how Frost created the New England of his poems, subtly establishing lines of continuity with British and American Romanticism while simultaneously harbouring profound philosophical doubts about inherited models of poetic subjectivity and imagination. The place of poetry, for Frost, will be seen to be a place in which the play of mind is, itself, the most pressing subject matter. At the same time, Frost will be presented as a poet whose preoccupation with models of self and place gives his work a profound ecological and environmental relevance.

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