• Eco-Geologies of Queer Desire: Elizabeth Bishop’s Love Poetry and Charles Darwin’s Beagle Geology Travel Narratives

    Cassandra Laity (see profile)
    20th century, Gender and sexualities, Geopoetics
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    This essay explores the impact of Charles Darwin’s often poetic, largely geological travel narratives – the Diary and Voyage of the Beagle – on Elizabeth Bishop’s queered travel poems “Crusoe in England”(1976) and “Vague Poem”(circa 1973), in the context of recent feminist theory’s materialist ecological “turn.” I survey Bishop’s shift from her early Freudian, “primordial” rocky landscapes, projecting submerged desires for a seductive mother figure, to her later deliberate materializations of these psychosexual realms in “the real” of geology’s unfolding forces and flows. Adapting Darwin’s similarly haunted, dark, Romantic accounts of his voyaging into crustal earth, Bishop’s “Crusoe” and “Vague Poem” variously enact an immersion in earth’s unfolding volcanic or crystalline ancestral past, which successively opens out “eco-geologically” to enmesh queer human intimacy/the body. Theoretically, Bishop’s Darwinian love poems richly materialize the queer body while redefining our enmeshment in nature as the wellspring of achieved being, intimacy, and desire. Further, Bishop’s poems offer a newly relevant feminist ecology within our so-called Anthropocene era of humanly caused, unnaturally accelerated geology. Bishop effectively inserts a “differently” sexed/gendered relation to geologic forces and materialities, thereby countering the neglectful patriarchal anthropos currently scarring our planet.
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    3 years ago
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