Poetry and the Architecture of Imagination

  • Elizabeth Anne Jardine Godwin

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This PhD brings together a collection of poetry, ‘The Walled Garden’, which comprises three linked sequences of poetry, followed by a thesis, ‘Poetry and Architecture of the Imagination’. The critical work examines how architectural theory can inform poetic practice, and argues that overlaps between the two ostensibly disparate disciplines of architecture and poetry are creatively enriching of each other. The commentary investigates these sites and points of contact as overlaps that can help poets to explore the interconnectedness of systems and values of human and non-human worlds. The submission begins with three linked sequences, Pwllpeiran, Wan Under Wolcnan and Tintern, work characterised by an awareness of place. Collectively, the poetry explores three key locations: Tintern Abbey and the River Wye, Pwllpeiran Research Centre and the Cwmystwyth Valley. My work also addresses various semi-urban locations that are often overlooked, abandoned or reserved for ‘nature’, and engages with current ideas in the ‘new nature writing’ and ecopoetic theory. More broadly, my critical writing is concerned with how humans interact with space and environment. The first chapter considers the importance of architecture in Andrew Marvell’s country house poem ‘Upon Nun Appleton’, and explores the poem’s caution against regarding ‘nature’ as a form of utopia. Chapter Two examines John Burnside’s notions of dwelling space and his idea of the garden as liminal space where borders can be crossed. Chapter Three considers William Wordsworth’s understanding of place and memory, focusing on ‘Lines Composed a few miles above Tintern Abbey’. This chapter also
addresses the phenomenological ideas of architect Steven Holl. Chapter Four discusses Alice Oswald’s Dart, focusing on her use of the river to conjure poetic voices. It also evaluates the role of Peter Zumthor’s architecture in the creation of poetic voices and atmospheres of ‘otherliness’ in my own writing
Date of Award2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Aberystwyth University
SupervisorRichard Marggraf Turley (Supervisor)

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