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Title: Women, cultural duality and space : themes in twentieth-century Anglo-American poetry
Author: Petch, Melanie Jayne
ISNI:       0000 0004 2675 3625
Awarding Body: De Montfort University
Current Institution: De Montfort University
Date of Award: 2007
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A longstanding critical map which has perpetuated the differences between British and American poetries is currently in the process of being redrawn. In recent years, there has been a marked interest in literary criticism which seeks to explore the rich and complex interplay between the two nations and their respective poetries. Despite this being a necessary dialogue, the contextualisation of women poets in this important field of enquiry has been largely unrecognised. This thesis responds to the problem of female negation by setting up a critical and cultural context which explores the poetic tendencies of nine Anglo-American women poets whose publishing histories span 1913-2006: British-born poets, Mina Loy (1882-1966) and Denise Levertov (1923-1997), and American-born poets, H.D. (1886-1961), Laura (Riding) Jackson (1901-1991), Ruth Fainlight (1931-), Sylvia Plath (1932-1963), Anne Stevenson (1933-), Anne Rouse (1954-) and Eva Salzman (1961-) The intent of this study is to argue that the intersection of cultural duality and gender lends this poetry by Anglo-American women a particularly dynamic energy which generates a rich fretwork of spatial negotiations. This is primarily achieved through the poets' use of symbols which reflect their preoccupations with living as an outsider who oscillates in and between two places. Often, although not exclusively, metaphors of estrangement are explicitly gendered and signify the search for a female space. The theoretical work of French feminist and poststructuralist, Julia Kristeva and Marxist philosopher and sociologist, Henri Lefebvre, proposes that the condition of the social outsider can be harmonised within the imaginative space of poetry, thus offering writers the potential to 'change and appropriate' the limitations of the social space in which they find themselves. Especially appealing for expatriate women poets then, the creative writing process precipitates their empowerment, liberation and the opportunity to reimagine a parallel world to inhabit. The concept of space and how it is perceived imaginatively in this range of poetry determines the thematic structure of the thesis. Individual chapters focus upon locations, homes, journeys, bodies and landscapes, and myth. The formation reflects a progression from spaces that are grounded in material conditions, as with locations, the home, and journeys, towards spaces that are highly intimate and abstract, as with bodies and landscapes, and myth. Responding to the limitations of binary discourses that uphold the divide between American and British poetries, as well as to the lack of feminist engagement with cultural discourses, this thesis offers a number of frameworks for reading Anglo-American poetry. While rejecting prescriptive definitions, it endeavours to set up a sufficiently open narrative that can encompass poets dating before the twentieth-century, contemporary poets in the current climate, as well as poets who will continue to complicate the AmericanlBritish axis in the future.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available