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Title: Experimental typography in twentieth-century poetry
Author: Matore, Daniel
ISNI:       0000 0004 6498 7887
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2017
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Experimental Typography in Twentieth-Century Poetry, by Daniel Matore, New College, University of Oxford. A thesis submitted for examination for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in English Literature in Hilary Term, 2017. This thesis is a study of the typographical experimentation in the verse of twentieth-century poets writing in English. Typography and poetics, it contends, became indissolubly linked in the last century, and this work traces why this is so. It chiefly deals with poetry written roughly in the period 1908 to 1970, rooted in the work of Ezra Pound, E.E. Cummings, and Charles Olson, but with substantial considerations of poets such as Marianne Moore, William Carlos Williams, and David Jones. Typographical experiment in European languages, particularly the work of Stéphane Mallarme, Guillaume Apollinaire, and F.T. Marinetti, is recurrently invoked to comprehend the idiosyncrasies of the graphical innovations of British and American poets. At the heart of this thesis is the question of why so many poets throughout the last century employed typography as a signatory part of their style. It hopes to show how authorships and the span of a poet's career can be read through their typography. Its methodology is eclectic. Archival research into manuscripts, drafts, typescripts, and proofs has provided the empirical groundwork as well as interpretative insights. Essays and periodical articles are drawn upon to trace the intellectual history which informs literary style. Close reading, sometimes within the parameters of established stylistic vocabulary and sometimes at the limits of this, is undertaken to illuminate the expressive possibilities of typographical form. The introduction prefigures the debates and motifs of typographical experiment through the seminal work of Stéphane Mallarmé. It considers whether there was a typographical revolution in poetry in English at the start of the last century and examines how the advents of free verse and experimental mise-en-page intersected. Chapter 1 traces the foundational importance of Ezra Pound in the genealogy of typographical experiment in English. His graphical innovations are read through lenses such as musicology, psychophysics, and ophthalmology. Chapter 2 considers the audacious and celebrated visuality of E.E. Cummings, focussing on his early unpublished experiments, his debut volume Tulips and Chimneys (1923), and his 1935 collection No Thanks. How sexuality and the material text interrelate is examined, and his typography is interpreted through his theories of reading. Chapter 3 is concerned with the post-war experiments of Charles Olson, especially his magnum opus The Maximus Poems. The respective vocations of the poet and the typographer are examined through his relationships with printers and designers, and the influence of philosophies of space on his poetics is explored. The conclusion situates modernist experiment in relation to the aesthetics of graphic design. The categories of printing reformers and reactionaries are employed to cast into relief the idiosyncrasy of typographical experimentation in poetry.
Supervisor: Beasley, Rebecca Sponsor: Arts and Humanities Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available