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Dafydd Sinden

Dafydd Sinden

Research project title

Forms of Attention during the British Poetry Revival, 1968-1995


Dr Alex Niven and Dr Mark Byers

Contact details


Research interests

  • Anglo-American modernist poetry
  • critical and cultural theory
  • intersections between philosophy and literature
  • the material and social history of small presses and little magazines
blue minerals

A brief outline of my research project

This project interrogates the forms of attention and observation practised during the British Poetry Revival. Its central premise is that the penetration into Anglophone thought of new ideas coined by continental philosophers from the 1960s onwards (manifested by, e.g., the translation into English of Merleau-Ponty’s Phenomenology of Perception in 1962, or Debord’s Society of the Spectacle in 1970) prompted a newfound poetic attention to the act of attention itself; and an enquiry into the nature of observation. Using an approach that is both literary-historical and theoretical, I propose that works written between 1968 and 1995 by Colin Simms, Bill Griffiths, J. H. Prynne, Peter Riley and R. F. Langley stage a tension between the primacy and facticity of phenomenal experience; and the ousting of that experience by representation, whereby each act of perception, when examined, reveals its contingency and its mediation. I aim to demonstrate how British late modernism mounted a new challenge to earlier forms of modernist subjectivism, through its laying bare of the mediating lens between self and world and its insistence that immediate experience is invariably abstracted into forms of knowledge that are historically and materially situated.

Research activities

My academic background

  • MPhil English (Criticism and Culture), University of Cambridge
  • BA English, University College London