Professor Natalie Pollard
Associate Professor of Modern Literature and Culture
Natalie's research specialisms are in multi-disciplinary approaches to contemporary writing and visual culture. She is an expert in Anglophone poetry and its connection with artistic practices, ecologies and entangled agencies. Natalie is currently writing her third book, due out with Bloomsbury in 2024, in the area of Environmental Humanities. She is the author of two published monographs: Fugitive Pieces: Poetry, Publishing and Visual Culture from Late Modernism to the 21C (Oxford UP, 2020) and Speaking to You: Contemporary Poetry and Public Address (OUP, 2012), and the editor of Don Paterson: Contemporary Critical Essays (Edinburgh UP, 2014). She is also the director of Unhoming Pedagogies, a network which brings together global scholars and students to consider the potential for unmooring anthropocentric educational norms, colonial knowledge structures and power hierarchies, through practices that involve risk-taking and bewilderment, creative digression, environmental and multispecies collaboration.
Natalie has active research and teaching interests at the intersections of the arts, humanites and natural/social sciences. Her current research explores the narrative and visual potentials for mapping-worlds-otherwise. She also has particular interest in the following 20-21C writers, amongst others: Craig Santos Perez, Alice Oswald, Rita Wong, M. NourbeSe Philip, Caroline Bergvall, J.M. Coetzee, Ali Smith, J.R. Carpenter, Jordan Abel, Cecilia Vicuña, Geoffrey Hill, Paul Muldoon, Zoe Wicomb, Ivan Vladislavić, Denise Riley, Ted Hughes, David Jones, T.S. Eliot, Djuna Barnes.
Natalie is an expert in contemporary literature and theory, especially environmental humanities approaches to creative non-fiction, poetry and the visual arts. Her research interests are in ecocriticism, anticolonial global literature and culture, writing and diaspora, social justice pedagogy, post-humanism, and issues-based cultual theory. She has published on poetry and provocation, digital technology, scholarship and stupidity, the politics of the literary marketplace, conflicts between avant-garde and mainstream writing, and the ethics of bickering, rudeness and address.
Natalie's most recent monograph is entitled Fugitive Pieces: Poetry, Publishing and Visual Culture from Late Modernism to the 21C (Oxford UP, 2020). It advances a new understanding of literary, artistic, and nonhuman practices and shows the urgency of engaging with their messy co-dependencies. The book challenges critical methodologies that make a sharp division between the textual work and the extra-literary, and raises urgent questions about the status and autonomy of art and its public role. Fugitive Pieces considers what is at stake in overlooked literary and artistic entanglements between: word and image, media and materiality, inscription and illustration, human and more-than-human. The book proposes a vulnerable, fugitive mode of reading poetry, which defies disciplinary categorisations, embracing the open-endedness and provisionality of forms. This manifests itself interactively in the six case studies which include: Djuna Barnes and the grotesque living statue, David Jones’ architecture and sacrament; the neglected dimensions of the intra-active correspondence of Ted Hughes and Leonard Baskin, Denise Riley and reverberation, and ventriloquism in Paul Muldoon.
Natalie's earlier monograph, Speaking to You: Contemporary Poetry and Public Address (OUP, 2012) examined the theoretical and literary history of poetic address, and its social and political negotiations (especially between modernism and the later decades of the 20C). The book focuses on how specific situations - place, date, auditor, audience - inform everyday practices of reading, writing, speaking, teaching, publishing. It offers a view of the literary text as communal process, in which poems address, and take shape from, a transhistorical community of writers, workers, reviewers and citizens.
Natalie has also published an edited collection on the contemporary Scottish writer Don Paterson. It came out with Ediburgh University Press in 2014 as Don Paterson: Contemporary Critical Essays.
Natalie has further published a series of articles and chapters on the subject of 'Lyric Economies'. Taking as their focus the relationship between place and regionality, the politics of space, and present-day anxieties over poetic legacy, materiality, commerce, broadcast, privacy and literary dissemination, these pieces hybridise book history and new formalist methodologies. (They attend to published poems, correspondence between poets and editors, as well as early – often hostile – reviews and commentaries, in order to analyse the negotiations of literary business since Modernism, such as editorial policies, literary prizes and commissions, marketing strategies, group dynamics). In this, the appearance of the printed page comes to appear as a surreptitious species of accost and co-ercison; one that calls on poets and readers to negotiate problematic conventions of form, style, typography, book design and value.
Much of this work was conducted during Natalie's 3-year British Academy research fellowship (2012-14), during which she organised a programme of outreach events. These included talks at local art galleries, libraries and museums, as well as overseeing the launch of the first Reading Poetry Festival (2013): an event she co-directed with Peter Robinson. The Festival involved collaboration between Reading town and the University, local and global publishers, typographers, publishers and artists.
Longer-term, Natalie is putting together essays on environmental global literary studies for a new book on Not Getting It, particularly focusing on art's relationship with affective states of bewilderment, stupefaction, arrest, and on transdisciplinary critical and creative tools for collaborative survival in a more-than-human Anthropocene.
Unhoming Pedagogies Project
At a time when complex international crises are unmooring institutional practices, the Unhoming Pedagogies network offers a space for exploration of the emerging possibilities for HE. The network brings together a community of global scholars and students interested in disrupting anthropocentric pedagogic norms, colonial knowledge structures and educational power hierarchies.
Through a series of transdisciplinary workshops and storytelling practices shared via its website, the Unhoming Pedagogies project explores the roles of uncertainty, risk, bewilderment and transformation in global HE. It explores modes of collaborative educational participation and coming-to-know that are nomadic, wandering, digressive, vulnerably between agencies – unhomed – rather than treating knowledge as secure, domesticated, belonging, or easily graspable.
Unhoming Pedagogies is open to all staff and students and others curious about fostering greater diversity in what constitutes knowledge, whether in education, research, creative practice, play, or beyond. You are welcome to join in. Please contact Dr. Natalie Pollard via the Unhoming Pedagogies website, if you are interested in contributing.
Funding: This project was funded by a GCRF Facilitation Fund grant (2018-19) and a UoE Education Incubator Fellowship (2019-20). In its initial phases, the project focused on HE in South Africa and the UK to offer a comparative case study of the global knowledge relations. Click here to find out more about this early work.
Diasporic Poetry Reading Series: Annual Public Event in collaboration with Falmouth Art Gallery and Fish Factory
This annual public poetry series enables UoE students to mingle with the public, local curators, arts practitioners and small press publishers. It also brings Falmouth and Penryn communities into contact with national and international poets. The work of the writers who have been invited touches on issues around place and displacement, identity and belonging, and questions colonial legacies, environmental exploitation and material presence. In previous years we have hosted poets including Natasha Tretheway, Don Paterson, Holly Corfield Carr, and Anthony Caleshu. See here for details of the launch event in 2017.
I am open to discussing future research proposals on any relevant subject in my research areas. I would be especially happy to consider working with candidates with interests in the following areas: transdisciplinary approaches to literature and culture, contemporary poetics and ecological care, modernism, issues-based theory/criticism, decolonial practices in HE, writing and philosophy, artworks as forms of knowledge, publishing cultures and anti-canonicity, literature and the plastic arts (especially architecture, sculpture), the repurposing of classical, medieval, early modern artefacts in contemporary culture, posthumanist and new materialist appraoches to research.
Primary supervisor, DTP-funded doctorate, Underwater Frequencies: Experimental Methods Between Bioacoustics and Contemporary Poetics, Deborah Ashfield (Exeter, with Southampton, 2021-present)
Co-supervisor (with Andy Brown, Creative Writing) Maternal Legacy and Mental Health: Exploring Mortality and Identity through the Power of Confession in Poetry, Gemma Downing (Exeter 2021-present).
Co-supervisor (with Jo Gill, English): The Plays of Ted Hughes, Judy Rye (Exeter, 2017-present)
Co-supervisor (with David Jones, Modern Languages): Bilingualism, Self-Translation and Hybridity in Samuel Beckett and Elif Safak, Irem Kasar (Exeter, 2018-present)
Doctoral Supervision for Visiting PhD Student, Brianne Christiansen (UBC, 2022)
Doctoral Supervision for Visiting PhD Student, Caitlin Vandertop (Hong Kong University, 2016)
External impact and engagement
Project Lead, Unhoming Pedagogies
Unhoming Pedagogies is a new digital repository and global workshop series for students and staff to explore the function of uncertainty, risk and play in global HE. It considers modes of educational participation that are wandering, digressive, nomadic and emergent – ‘unhomed’ – rather than those that treat knowledge as secure, domesticated, or easily graspable.
At a time when complex international crises are unmooring institutional practices, this project brings together global scholars and students to discuss the unhoming of anthropocentric pedagogic norms, colonial knowledge structures and educational power hierarchies.
The Unhoming Pedagogies network (digital repository + workshop series) is open to all staff and students and others curious about fostering greater diversity in what constitutes knowledge, whether in education, research, creative practice, play, or beyond. You are welcome to join in! Please see the Unhoming Pedagogies website for how to participate.
Director of Diasporic Poetry Readings
An annnual public poetry event held in collaboration with the Falmouth Art Gallery. Invited poets have included Don Paterson (Spring, 2018), Natasha Trethewey (Spring 2017), Holly Corfield Carr (Autumn 2018), Anthony Caleshu (Spring 2019), J.R. Carpenter (2021)
Co-director of Reading Poetry Festival (5-9 June 2013)
Curator of STUFF: The Look of Poetry, exhibition at Museum of English Rural Life (March-June 2013)
Curator of An A-Z of Reading, exhibition at University Main Library, University of Reading (May-July 2013)
Invited Speaker and Panel Member, Public Event in Film, Art and Literature at South London Gallery (Feb. 2014), topic: 'The Rude, the Good and the Stupid: Contemporary Literature and Astonishment'
At Exeter, my main teaching contributions are in the areas of contemporary and modernist writing and culture, and issues-based criticism and theory. My approach to teaching encourages discussion of contemporary arts that is alert to their connections with hybrid and inter-disciplinary knowledge production and writing processes. I am interested in fostering an appreciation of how creativity and critical thinking today are informed by understandings from earlier eras, which are key in the formation and structuring of twentieth and twenty first century histories and cultures. I also tend to mix canonical works with marginalised and lesser-known forms.
Pedagogically, my teaching is informed by current research into how to re-think anthropocentric educational norms, colonial knowledge structures and power hierarchies. Practically speaking, this involves an openness to uncertainty and strangeness, digression, vulnerability, and to interests that lie at the intersections of the arts, humanities and social/natural sciences.
I have won three teaching awards at Exeter and been nominated for two further awards.
I held a funded Education Incubator Fellowship for the project Decolonial Practices, Ethical Education, and the Humanities (2019-20), see p.26