Early Daoism, Ecocriticism and the Anthropocene: The Case of Edward Thomas

  • Jingcheng Xu


This dissertation will explore the contemporary value of early Daoism, a Chinese indigenous philosophy established prior to the Qin period (221 B.C.E.). It will suggest, as we enter the Age of the Anthropocene, that early Daoist thinking is useful to present-day ecocriticism. In short, it offers a way of restoring spiritual concerns to our thinking about environmental crises that we often presently consider in purely physical and material ways. After setting out the principles of early Daoism and suggesting its usefulness to contemporary ecocriticism, this thesis will consider the poetry of Edward Thomas as a case study of how early Daoism can offer new insights into canonical western literature. It will show how Daoist thinking offers re-readings of Thomas’s poetry that bring spiritual matters to the centre of our understanding of the present environmental quandaries. My project intervenes in the literary field in three ways: firstly, it is a contribution to the literary critical field of Edward Thomas studies; secondly, it brings the tradition of Eastern thought firmly into the realm of ecocriticism; thirdly, it works more broadly to raise the profile of Chinese thinking and further dismantle Euro-American literary and cultural hegemonies.


Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
Thesis sponsors
  • Chinese Scholarship Council
Award dateJan 2018