Chlorine, Neurasthenia, Bombturbation: A Mattertextual Critique of English War Poems


  • Başak Ağın Middle East Technical University


Two modes of depiction characterize the understanding of nature in English War Poetry. The first one, in synch with the most warfare narratives, involves the portrayal of a dark, gloomy atmosphere with devastated landscapes, filled with fumes, heaps of metal and concrete, and the remnants of a dying nature in the background. The second one depicts a rural ‘home,’ far away from the battle zone, enclosed by a pristine and idealized environment, giving the warmth of the ‘motherland,’ which is equally embracing, protective, and fertile as ‘mother nature.’ Although they were not purposeless at the time, these two contrastive approaches have come to formulate an area of contest within contemporary literary scholarship as well as in the current forms of the posthumanities and environmental humanities because they create a further distance between nature and culture, widening the long-established gap between the two. By problematizing this stark contrast between nature and culture, body and mind, and matter and text, this article presents a critique of early ecocritical readings of English war poems, and as an alternative, it offers a mattertextual analysis of Wilfred Owen’s “Spring Offensive” (1918), which might help us better understand the long-term anthropogenic impacts related to the toxic intrusions of the war into the earth and its human and nonhuman components.


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How to Cite

Ağın, B. (2020). Chlorine, Neurasthenia, Bombturbation: A Mattertextual Critique of English War Poems. Journal of Narrative and Language Studies, 8(15), 177–186. Retrieved from