Conference Proceeding

Feminist Forms and Borderless Landscapes in Ali Smith’s Seasonal Quartet



Pioneering Scottish novelist Ali Smith experiments with literary form and, in response to the contemporary climate crisis, she plants environmental themes into her poetic prose. Smith’s seasonal quartet includes four stand-alone but interconnected novels that capture the critical and cyclical changes that come with an industrial, post-Brexit world. This change includes the ever-growing borders that divide people and places. Smith crosses and removes borders in her four published volumes—Autumn (2016), Winter (2017), Spring (2019), and Summer (2020)—to reunite Europeans with their fragmented, common land. Her third volume, Spring, demands particular attention for its archive of feminist and ecological forms. Spring exhibits the work of British visual artist Tacita Dean (1965—), whose 2018 exhibition at the Royal Academy, titled Landscape, implores the viewer to consider their place in temporal and geological time scales. Dean’s form-breaking style resists modern art’s limitations and, like Smith’s experimental fiction, refuses to conform to borders or, in this case, genre conventions. A practice well versed in the politics of exclusion, feminist art has the capacity to model a borderless world. Smith’s gallery of feminist art further incites us to remediate marginalized subjects and restore our relationship with the wider ecosystem.

Keywords: borders, form, Ali Smith, landscape, feminist art

How to Cite: Conway, T. (2021) “Feminist Forms and Borderless Landscapes in Ali Smith’s Seasonal Quartet”, Iowa Journal of Cultural Studies. 21(1). doi: