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Title: The lesbian muse : homoeroticism, female poetic identity and contemporary muse figures
Author: Parker, Sarah Louise
ISNI:       0000 0004 2718 0910
Awarding Body: University of Birmingham
Current Institution: University of Birmingham
Date of Award: 2012
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This thesis addresses the concept of the contemporary muse in the work of six late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century women poets. In my introduction, I detail the history of the muse in literary tradition. I examine the problems that the gendered dynamic of poet/muse presented, by restricting women to a passive, inspiring role. I argue that, due to these problematic aspects, contemporary feminist criticism of the woman poet’s muse has often elided the homoerotic desire and power-play that structures these relationships. To rectify this, I focus on contemporary, living muse figures. I emphasise why these kinds of figures (as opposed to dead, historical or mythological muses) were particularly inspiring to women poets in the late-nineteenth/early-twentieth centuries. I also address the specific ethical dilemmas of claiming a living muse. My four main chapters detail and theorise the dynamics between poets and their contemporary muses: Michael Field and Bernard Berenson; Olive Custance and Lord Alfred Douglas; Amy Lowell and Eleonora Duse/Ada Russell; and H.D. and Bryher. My conclusion draws these individual studies together to emphasise their illuminating similarities, including the increased fluidity between the roles of poet/muse, destabilisation of gender categories, and the presence of a third term that mediates the muse/poet relationship.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: AHRC
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: HQ The family. Marriage. Woman ; PN0441 Literary History ; PR English literature