Bradley Osborne

Department: English
Discipline: English

Project Summary

My thesis explores the development of William Golding's conception of the human in relation to the non-human across both his published and unpublished works. Far from presenting a static picture of human nature through allegory, as former critics have alleged, I will argue that Golding repeatedly experimented with form, content, and genre to push at the limits of what contemporary thought generally conceived to be “the human”. His published works demonstrate that he heavily engaged with intellectual strains such as evolutionary theory, psychoanalysis, and existentialism, which challenged the rational humanist conception of human nature (a legacy of the Enlightenment). In my research into Golding's notes held at Special Collections, I hope to discover exactly what Golding was reading, and what he thought of it, in order to trace the development of Golding's thought. Of particular interest to my project is Golding's friendship with James Lovelock, the chemist who formulated the Gaia hypothesis (to which Golding gave the name 'Gaia'). The Gaia hypothesis, which postulates that the Earth is a self-regulatory system that co-evolves with living organisms, radically changed ideas about the human race's relation to the natural environment.

Supervisory Team

Primary Supervisor: Professor Tim Kendall

Wider Research Interests

Along with my general interest in theories of human identity and the environment (such as queer theory, posthumanism, and ecocriticism), I have a strong interest in game studies and the potential that videogames have to explore and alter conventional ideas about identity and agency. I also maintain a strong interest in constructed worlds, from the utopias of Plato and More to the multiverses of contemporary fantasy and science-fiction. Of particular interest to me are the works of Dante and Milton, which somehow always find their way into my research no matter where I go!