Walking Severn Miles:
: The Affordances of Fresh Water

  • Jonathan James Brettell

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Following a call from Linton (2010) to think more relationally about water this thesis seeks to explore the infolding and unfolding relations that take-form between bodies around particular characteristics of freshwater. There is a tradition of exploration regarding the sustainability, quality, monitoring and management of water when we encounter research on human associations with fluvial hydrology, and whilst this work is important, this project looks to enrol more nascent and contemporary geographical themes to broaden our understanding of encounters with freshwater landscapes, and take a more relational approach to fluvial geographies. These works then shall address a gap in the geographical literature and describe the personal, pre-personal and affective worlds that emerge when bodies become down by the river. Whilst this is not specifically a walking project, walking the course of the River Severn serves as a trajectory along which processual ideas of bodies on the move shall be mobilised. A series of creatively written segues will link together a sequence of theoretical and conceptually driven site ontologies (Marston et al 2005; Woodward et al 2010) and relations associated with the Severn and freshwater more broadly. The flow and form of the thesis will reflect the multivariant characteristics of water and its varying speeds and slownesses. The chapters will step into puddles, mooch about in a ships graveyard, rethink the source of a river, paddle a coracle and set the scene for how an ontological, relational approach to fluvial landscapes can contribute to geographical thinking. The works will focus on human-nonhuman relations, vibrant materialities and elemental mobilities, in so doing enable further understanding of how we can apprehend sites as moments of coherence in a turbulent world, and contribute to broadening our scope of knowledge of the more-than-human
Date of Award2016
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Aberystwyth University
SupervisorPeter Merriman (Supervisor) & Gareth Hoskins (Supervisor)


  • relationality
  • site ontology
  • fresh water
  • movement
  • nonhuman agency
  • entropy

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