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Poetics and Politics of Place in Pastoral

International Perspectives

Edited By Bénédicte Chorier-Fryd, Charles Holdefer and Thomas Pughe

In a time of global environmental crisis, pastoralism may seem beside the point. Yet pastoral ideals are still alive even though they often manifest themselves by ironic indirection. What can the pastoral tradition teach us about our ties to particular places?
The contributors to this volume attempt to lay the groundwork for the ongoing concern with pastoral and with its critical revision.
This volume brings together new essays that focus on painting, photography, poetry, essay, fiction and film, from the Renaissance to the present. They also take into account an astonishing variety of pastoral places, in Europe, Africa, and North America; country and city; suburbia and industrial zones.
Poetics and Politics of Place in Pastoral is not only about reassessing the past, but also provides a sense of future developments as the pastoral reinvents itself for the 21 st century.
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A City Girl’s Pastoral Playground: A Geocritical Approach to Gendered Arcadia in Anaïs Nin’s Cities of the Interior


In his 1999 monograph Pastoral, Terry Gifford theorizes the pastoral, demonstrating and applying pastoral analysis to literary works falling outside of the traditionally held pastoral genre. Evoking numerous pastoral debates, Gifford even asks, “Can there really be no twentieth-century continuations of the pastoral forms?” (3). Sheep, shepherds, and pastures, in their original forms, seem to be a thing of the past; yet, pastoral foundations such as the quest for Arcadia, pastoral retreat, and return from the pastoral are elements we find in modern and contemporary literature. Ultimately, pastoral is not dead, as demonstrated by later-twentieth century titles such as Philip Roth’s American Pastoral (1997) or George Saunders’ Pastoralia (2000). In some cases, as the one we will analyze here, when pastoral structural elements meet twentieth-century writing, there is a shift from countryside to urban jungle. Here we will analyze a representation of urban pastoral and a resulting constructed, gendered arcadia.

Combining pastoral with a gender perspective, we question the place of women in the post-modern pastoral: women writers and their female characters move beyond playing the fixed décor of pastoral scenery (as in the “original” pastoral approach) to enter into the pastoral perspective as subjects. As a result in this shift of agency, we may attempt to define the female pastoral and its gendered arcadia. Reading Anaïs Nin’s cityscape brings these gendered pastoral questions to the forefront because, like any pastoral hero, the three female protagonists of Nin’s Cities of the Interior (1946–1959)...

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