Land Lines: British Nature Writing, 1789-2014

Partners and collaborators

University of Sussex, University of St Andrews.


‘Land Lines’ is a two-year project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, and is a collaboration between researchers at the Universities of Leeds, Sussex and St Andrews. The project will carry out a sustained study modern British nature writing, beginning in 1789 with Gilbert White’s seminal study, The Natural History of Selborne, and ending in 2014 with Helen Macdonald’s prize-winning memoir, H is for Hawk. Between the two lies the jagged history of a genre that emerges under the sign of a triple crisis: the crisis of the environment, the crisis of representation, and the crisis of modernity itself. We’ll be looking primarily at non-fictional prose, not because it is the ‘truest’ form of nature writing, but because it brings out one of the genre’s most fundamental tensions: between the desire to set up a mimetic relation to the natural world and the awareness of the impossibility of doing so, for ‘nature’ is always other to what we imagine it to be, even if we are a part of it ourselves.

Project website