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Title: A bit of a buzz : a study of the poetry of Paul Muldoon
Author: Phillips, I. J.
Awarding Body: University of Wales Swansea
Current Institution: Swansea University
Date of Award: 1998
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After a cautionary introduction in which I acknowledge Muldoon's uneasy relationship with the critical establishment, I begin the study proper by discussing his fascination with language, reading him against the example of Joyce and exploring matters of representation. I suggest the visceral, neo-Gothic and carnivalesque extremes of his work, his complication of realist models of poetry and his aspiration towards a secular epiphany. The second chapter confronts various readings of Muldoon's sexual poetic, arguing against the interpretation of him as a misogynist by highlighting the stresses his style places upon traditional patterns of gender identity and behaviour. I claim that Muldoon over-strains inherited images of masculinity, dismantles the mechanisms of male lyricism, elides gender différance and ultimately 'domesticates' his own itinerant style. My third chapter explores Muldoon's affinity for Byron, indicating several points of congruence: their informal formality, their flexible approach to rhyme and narrative, their "amiable cynicism", their instinctive defiance of artistic or ideological 'clubs'. I consider Byron's antagonistic relationship with the Lakers as a correlative for Muldoon's 'revival' of Pantisocracy, brining Heaney and Field Day into the equation and arguing for the restless, delinquent, anti-conservatism of the Byronic-Muldoonian manner. The second half of my study is concerned with the popular notion of Muldoon as a postmodern poet. I sketch the ambiguities of postmodernism and go on to read Muldoon's Shining Brow as a test-case in the supposed evolution of Modern into postmodern. I consider the range of technological reference in Muldoon's writing in relation to both a general culture of 'hyperreality' and a specific (Northern Irish) culture of surveillance. I analyse Muldoon's uneasy relationship with tradition, his parodic, anti-pastoral mode, his (incomplete) urge towards artistic rootlessness and contrast his poetic with that of an acknowledged postmodern, John Ashbery. Finally, I indicate the referential scope and energy of Muldoon's work, his ongoing desire to produce poetry "with a bit of a buzz to it".
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available