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Carol Ann Duffy: Mean Time

39. Mean Time

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In this module, we read through the thirty-eighth poem in the collection, 'Mean Time', focusing in particular on: (i) the number of cross-references between the different poems in the collection – the recurrence of images, symbols, motifs, etc.; (ii) the preoccupations of the collection as whole – the meaning of time, what time means, and how time can be 'mean'; (iii) the echo in this poem of Philip Larkin's 'Days'; (iv) the evocation in the first line of Greenwich Mean Time ("the clocks slid back an hour"); (v) the unexpected use of the word "unmendable" to describe the rain in line 5, a kind of transferred epithet; and (vi) the use of "if" both here and in another poem of Carol Ann Duffy's, 'Last Post'.


In this course, Professor John McRae (University of Nottingham) explores Carol Ann Duffy’s 1993 collection, ‘Mean Time'. After an introductory module in which we think about the poetry of Carol Ann Duffy in general and the collection as a whole – and especially the implications of its title – the course continues with a reading and analysis of each of the thirty-nine poems in the collection, one by one.


John McRae is Special Professor of Language in Literature Studies and Teaching Associate in the School of English at Nottingham University, and holds Visiting Professorships in China, Malaysia, Spain and the USA. He is co-author of The Routledge History of Literature in English with Ron Carter, and also wrote The Language of Poetry, Literature with a Small 'l' and the first critical edition of Teleny by Oscar Wilde and others.

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APA style

McRae, J. (2021, March 01). Carol Ann Duffy: Mean Time - Mean Time [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

McRae, J. "Carol Ann Duffy: Mean Time – Mean Time." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 01 Mar 2021,

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