Championing the Pathless Way: Sites of Resistance in the Work of John Clare

This project aims to highlight John Clare’s resistance to ubiquitous systems of knowledge that limit the way we may know something. Clare’s work highlights how scientific, aesthetic, and poetic representations of nature can change our experience with it by ignoring context and variety in favor of categorization and definition through established modes of understanding. In the same way, systems that categorize people by class, defining them by social level, elide the reality of existence through stereotype and social expectations. In folk culture and rural traditions, Clare locates significant sites of resistance to the elision of the laboring class under the changing enclosure movement countryside of the nineteenth century. Clare pushes us, through a focus and celebration of our first-hand experiences with folk culture and nature, to constantly interrogate, even as we may use them, systems of knowledge that obscure the reality of the earthly world.