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Title: Creative writing, cosmopolitanism, and contemporary American literature
Author: Cetkovski, James
ISNI:       0000 0004 7652 3887
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2017
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This thesis attempts to answer a puzzling question about the historical trajectory of twentieth-century American literature. The dominant literary practice of the early twentieth century, Anglo-American modernism, places a premium upon the juxtaposition of discourses and voices from an enormous variety of cultural contexts and languages. It insists upon the importance of grounding literature in cultural tradition, while at the same time practicing an experimentalism that attempts to remodel ossified forms of representation into literary modes of expression adequate to historical circumstances changing at a precipitate rate. Postwar and contemporary American fiction and poetry no longer count polyvocality amongst their most important characteristics, no longer insist upon the importance of literary tradition, and have become markedly less experimental. What accounts for this? I claim this development stems in large part from the institutional reconfiguration of contemporary American literature around the graduate creative writing program. The narrowing of American poetry and fiction from these formal perspectives corresponds to a narrowing of the typical institutional path of American poets and writers of fiction. A short preface sets out the argument and the structure of the thesis. Chapter 1 sets out the central dynamics of the argument at greater length, and shows the influence of the creative writing program upon postwar and contemporary American poetry through detailed readings of a wide variety of poems from different stylistic contexts. Chapter 2 sets out the relationship between institutional experience and poetic practice in a representative modernist case, that of the poet Ezra Pound. Chapter 3 explores stylistic questions of creative writing program fiction with reference to the novelist Saul Bellow. Chapter 4 examines an especially representative case of poetic success in the creative writing program through a consideration of the contemporary American poet Jorie Graham. Chapter 5 explores institutional effects upon the conditions of literary expression by looking at the fiction and teaching practice of the novelist David Foster Wallace.
Supervisor: Sullivan, Hannah ; Pratt, Lloyd Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available