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David LeBlanc

by Betsy VanNoy Sep 18, 2020
David LeBlanc

PhD Candidate in English

Fall Center and Institute Fellow


David is a 3rd year PhD candidate in the English department. He is from New Hampshire where he attended Keene State College, majoring in English and minoring in Writing. David went on to attain an MFA in Creative Writing with a concentration in Poetry from the Stonecoast MFA program at the University of Southern Maine. His research investigates intersections of aesthetics and ecocriticism in British Romantic poetics, particularly those that frame and inform contemporary poetic discourse on the environment and the Anthropocene.


Aesthetic Ecologies and Romantic Poetics in the Anthropocene

My research investigates how conceptualizations of nature and Anthropocenic change developed through the poetry and aesthetics of British Romantics. Specifically, I explore how three concepts—the bower, the fragment, and what I have termed the ‘Dark Other’—changed and informed Romantic aesthetics and, in turn, how these concepts persist and help shape ecocritical and Anthropocenic discourses today. I argue that the conventionally noncontingent space of the bower was largely broken open by Romantic poets and used to expose how natural spaces were always ever intertwined, culturized, and politicized by human intervention. The fragment—a Romantic model that has long been an object of scholarly study—reflected shifts towards more systemic conceptualizations of the world as local units, systems, and spaces mixed with their global iterations. Finally, the ‘Dark Other,’ loosely based on Thomas De Quincey’s own concept of ‘The Dark Interpreter,’ acts as a vehicle for Romantic poetics highlighting human action itself—notably, the act of authorship—as intertwined with both natural and local/global systems. The ‘Dark Other’ also represents the looming pressures of voice and agency during this volatile period in British colonialism. I read these three concepts forward into recent work by poets such as Donika Kelly and Alison Hawthorne Deming to see how the bower, fragment, and ‘Dark Other’ continue to appear in and influence poetic discourses today. I take as a given Anne Mellor’s call to reconfigure the British Romantic canon around the inclusion and re-centralization of women poets. As such, I use the poetry of Charlotte Turner Smith, Anna Laetitia Barbauld, and Joanna Baillie as a springboard for my examination of Romantic poetics. However, my concept-based research model includes analysis of many other Romantic poets, conventionally canonical and otherwise.