Vibrant localism: the lure of Common Ground

Smith, Jos ORCID: (2018) Vibrant localism: the lure of Common Ground. Critical Quarterly, 60 (2). pp. 86-102. ISSN 0011-1562

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This paper explores the emergence of the arts and environmental charity Common Ground and their association with authors such as John Fowles and Alice Oswald. Drawing on the background of its founding members in environmental activism of the 1970s, it suggests a relationship between the charity’s response to the Thatcherite 1980s and the aesthetic strategies of the postmodern novel. But is also traces this into more recent preoccupations with an ethical attitude to ‘a determining but nevertheless unrepresentable real’ (Boxall). In tracking the resistance of these activists and authors to official government institutions and institutional practices, it does, however, recall an alternative way of thinking about institution as temporal, as the emergence of something new, drawing on the work of Maurice Merleau-Ponty and bringing it into productive dialogue with Raymond Williams’ descriptions of divergences in a ‘structure of feeling’. The claim it makes is that the work of Common Ground and these various artists helped to institute a divergence in a certain structure of feeling at a time of political and historical impasse. Doing so serves to remember the capacity of the ‘institutional’ to be oriented towards the future rather than an ossifying present and to connote possibility where it might otherwise suggest imposition.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: localism,environmental criticism,activism,john fowles,alice oswald,common ground
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Literature, Drama and Creative Writing
UEA Research Groups: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Research Groups > Modern and Contemporary Writing Research Group
Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Research Groups > Creative-Critical Research Group
Depositing User: Pure Connector
Date Deposited: 10 May 2018 23:35
Last Modified: 22 Oct 2022 03:45
DOI: 10.1111/criq.12418


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