The boundaries of an Anglican parish were ritualistically set by the bodies of people who belonged to it, and by the eighteenth century its edges could be imagined as looping outward to encompass indispensable parishioners wherever they moved in the world. Gilbert White’s Natural History of Selborne (1789) brings nonhuman life into this relational model. In extending belonging to his favorite birds, which from his perspective may or may not be migratory, White uses religious concepts to perform a creative remapping of local space.
Birds in the Loop: Parish Boundaries and Extendable Belonging
DUSTIN D. STEWART is Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. Futures of Enlightenment Poetry, his first book, was awarded the Louis Gottschalk Prize. A new project examines the Anglican parish as a socioecological form.
Dustin D. Stewart; Birds in the Loop: Parish Boundaries and Extendable Belonging. Representations 1 November 2023; 164 (1): 23–50. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/rep.2023.164.2.23
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