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Imagining Wildernesses: Susan Howe’S Poetic Corrective, Samantha R. Walsh Jan 2020

Imagining Wildernesses: Susan Howe’S Poetic Corrective, Samantha R. Walsh

School of Arts & Sciences Theses

This work explores language poet Susan Howe’s conceptualization of the natural world in her 1989 poem, Thorow. Conceptualization of a distinct and pure wilderness, inherited from Puritan settlers, is traced through Henry David Thoreau’s Walden and located in Howe’s experience at Lake George in 1987. This thesis describes Howe’s efforts to decolonize and open up closed historical narratives. Howe’s careful deconstruction of normative linguistic structures exposes the restrictive nature of standard syntax and canonical narratives.


The Narrative Of Revolution: Socialism And The Masses 1911-1917, Stephen K. Walkiewicz May 2019

The Narrative Of Revolution: Socialism And The Masses 1911-1917, Stephen K. Walkiewicz

School of Arts & Sciences Theses

This thesis seeks to situate The Masses magazine (1911-1917) within a specific discursive tradition of revolution, revealing a narrative pattern that is linked with discourse that began to emerge during and after the French Revolution. As the term “socialism” begins to resonate again within popular American political discourse (and as a potentially viable course of action rather than a curse for damnable offense), it is worthwhile to trace its significance within American history to better understand its aesthetic dimensions, its radical difference, and its way of devising problems and answers. In short, this thesis poses the question: what ideological structures ...


Imagining The Archive: Speculation As A Tool Of Archival Reconstruction, Marieclaire Graham May 2019

Imagining The Archive: Speculation As A Tool Of Archival Reconstruction, Marieclaire Graham

All Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

This thesis examines a speculative methodological approach towards restoring silenced Black voices in the archive. First, I will discuss the reasons why this work is necessary, exploring the various patterns of muting, distortion, erasure, and disenfranchisement that Black communities experience within the United States in both physical and written forms. The use of speculation specifically addresses the dehumanization that has followed the Black experience in the United States from the earliest violent incarnation of slavery, and creating the foundation of this kind of silencing allows us to understand why speculation, as opposed to other methodological models for archive restoration, is ...


The Shape Of Knowledge: The Postwar American Poet's Library, With Diane Di Prima And Charles Olson, Mary Catherine Kinniburgh Feb 2019

The Shape Of Knowledge: The Postwar American Poet's Library, With Diane Di Prima And Charles Olson, Mary Catherine Kinniburgh

All Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

On the shelves of any collection of books, or what we might deem “a library,” is material evidence that generates multiple vectors of meaning. After D. F. McKenzie's “sociology of the text,” our ability to read books requires that we not just know their contents, but understand the networks in which they are built, distributed, interpreted, and used. In this capacity, books are a prime way of answering a political and epistemological question: how does knowledge take material form? And how is this process politically shaped at different points in time, by the types of knowledge that are privileged ...


Between The Living And The Dead, Laura Henriksen Feb 2019

Between The Living And The Dead, Laura Henriksen

All Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Throughout my studies at the Graduate Center, I have attempted to deepen my understanding of how some people, such as myself and my family, came to be white, and what that means, and how it can be undone. This question of whiteness has pushed me further back ontologically, or deeper down, to include how some people came to be human, and then even further, how some matter came to be living. In my thesis project I attempt to participate in dismantling one of the most fundamental binaries in binary thinking — the strict and uncomplicated division between the living and the ...


Reverse The Curse: Colonialist Legacies Of The Magic Poem, Karen E. Lepri Feb 2019

Reverse The Curse: Colonialist Legacies Of The Magic Poem, Karen E. Lepri

All Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

This dissertation investigates the conceptual relationships between poetry, magic, and race and their effects on both intellectual and creative practices from modernism through the post-war era. In doing so, this study works cross-disciplinarily, tracing early anthropological and sociological characterizations of primitive religion in connection to early-to-mid-twentieth-century literary study and writing. In working across disciplines at this particularly fungible moment in the history of the academy, this dissertation attempts to understand how the concurrent colonial global context effects the production and organization of knowledge just prior to and during modernism. It ultimately seeks to de-colonize literary thinking about poetry by performing ...


Suffering And The Black Female Narrative In The Twentieth Century, Aquilah Jourdain Jan 2019

Suffering And The Black Female Narrative In The Twentieth Century, Aquilah Jourdain

Dissertations and Theses

Adventure, romance, and happiness are not large parts of the stories Black women tell. If we had to name ten mainstream literary novels released in the last 50 years that featured Black women central to the plot — and included the aforementioned themes — we would be hard-pressed to find them. Though there are real life accounts of love, joy, and adventure in the lives of Black women, why do we see these life experiences documented sparingly? In the stories written by andforBlack women, where can Black female readers find joy in their history and culture without elements of grave sacrifice, abuse ...


To Be Everything: Sylvia Plath And The Problem That Has No Name, Alanna P. Mcauliffe May 2018

To Be Everything: Sylvia Plath And The Problem That Has No Name, Alanna P. Mcauliffe

Student Theses

This thesis explores, in depth, how the poetry of Sylvia Plath operates as an expression of female discontent in the decade directly preceding the sexual revolution. This analysis incorporates both sociohistorical context and theory introduced in Betty Friedan’s 1963 work The Feminine Mystique. In particular, Plath’s work is put in conversation with Friedan’s notion of the “problem that has no name,” an all-consuming sense of malaise and dissatisfaction that plagued American women in the postwar era. This notion is furthered by close-readings of poems written throughout various stages of Plath’s career (namely “Spinster,” “Two Sisters of ...


Speaking Truth To Power: Writing (Against) History In "The Brief Wondrous Life Of Oscar Wao" And "The Things They Carried", Karen Chau May 2018

Speaking Truth To Power: Writing (Against) History In "The Brief Wondrous Life Of Oscar Wao" And "The Things They Carried", Karen Chau

School of Arts & Sciences Theses

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and The Things They Carried subvert dominating historical narratives by challenging the frameworks that construct them through introducing alternate narratives. By reframing the ethics of truth, they rupture central narrative space with marginal perspectives, rewriting History in service of their own truths.


Insurgent Knowledge: The Poetics And Pedagogy Of Toni Cade Bambara, June Jordan, Audre Lorde, And Adrienne Rich In The Era Of Open Admissions, Danica B. Savonick May 2018

Insurgent Knowledge: The Poetics And Pedagogy Of Toni Cade Bambara, June Jordan, Audre Lorde, And Adrienne Rich In The Era Of Open Admissions, Danica B. Savonick

All Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Insurgent Knowledge analyzes the reciprocal relations between teaching and literature in the work of Audre Lorde, June Jordan, Toni Cade Bambara, and Adrienne Rich, all of whom taught in the Search for Education, Elevation, and Knowledge (SEEK) educational opportunity program at the City University of New York in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Drawing on archival research and analysis of their published work, I show how feminist aesthetics have shaped U.S. education (especially student-centered pedagogical practices) and how classroom encounters with students had a lasting impact on our postwar literary landscape and theories of difference. My project demonstrates ...


Tragedy And Theodicy: The Role Of The Sufferer From Job To Ahab, Nora Carroll Feb 2018

Tragedy And Theodicy: The Role Of The Sufferer From Job To Ahab, Nora Carroll

All Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

The character of Job starts in literature, a trope and archetype of the suffering man who potentially gains wisdom through suffering. Job’s characterization informs a comparison to Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex, Shakespeare’s King Lear, Milton’s Paradise Lost, and finally Melville’s Moby-Dick. These versions of Job rally, fight, and rebel against a universe that was once loving and fair towards a more chaotic and nihilistic one. Job’s suffering is on the mark of all tragedy because he not only experiences a downfall, he gains wisdom through universalizing his torment. The Job trope not only stresses the role ...


Creator And Creation: Artistic Development In Herman Melville’S Pierre; Or, The Ambiguities And James Joyce’S A Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Man, Magdalena M. De La Cruz Jan 2018

Creator And Creation: Artistic Development In Herman Melville’S Pierre; Or, The Ambiguities And James Joyce’S A Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Man, Magdalena M. De La Cruz

Dissertations and Theses

This study focuses on the primary protagonists of Herman Melville’s Pierre; or, the Ambiguities (1852) and James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916), Pierre Glendinning and Stephen Dedalus, as well as Isabel Banford, a supporting character in Melville’s novel, to illustrate how the tensions of contemporary society have a direct influence on the artist-hero’s representations and perspectives on self-realization. This thesis will draw on the major concepts of the artist and artist fiction as put forth in Otto Rank’s Art and Artist (1916), Herbert Marcuse’s “Der Deutsche Künstlerroman” (“The ...


From Fear To Reverie: Incidents In Isolation In The American Wilderness, Serhiy Metenko Jan 2018

From Fear To Reverie: Incidents In Isolation In The American Wilderness, Serhiy Metenko

Dissertations and Theses

This thesis looks at Nineteenth Century American adventure narratives to examine the role of the wilderness. This thesis centers on a motif of isolated characters in the wilderness and analyzes the various techniques nineteenth-century authors use to project the psyche of their characters. The selected Nineteenth Century authors: Washington Irving, Charles Brockden Brown, Edgar Alan Poe, Harriet Spofford, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Herman Melville root America’s identity in the wilderness. They emphasize its power on the human psyche as positive, restorative, inward-looking, and divine. This thesis argues that these authors portray the wilderness as a protagonist that needs to be ...


Tropes Trump Politics, Aaron Berkowitz Dec 2017

Tropes Trump Politics, Aaron Berkowitz

Capstones

This critical essay examines the use of tropes and themes in modern comic books and how they are used to protest President Donald Trump’s policies, actions and supporters. It begins with a detailed history of tropes used in comic books and how some of the first superhero comic book writers created these tropes in order to protest the social injustices of their times. It shifts to the first trope, the “compromised hero” where a hero is turned evil. It is used in “Secret Empire,” a book where Captain America turns evil and takes over the presidency. His rise to ...


Exorcising Power, John Jarzemsky Oct 2017

Exorcising Power, John Jarzemsky

School of Arts & Sciences Theses

This paper theorizes that authors, in an act I have termed “literary exorcism,” project and expunge parts of their identities that are in conflict with the overriding political agenda of their texts, into the figure of the villain. Drawing upon theories of power put forth by Judith Butler, I argue that this sort of projection arises in reaction to dominant ideas and institutions, but that authors find ways to manipulate this process over time. By examining a broad cross-section of English-language literature over several centuries, this phenomenon and its evolution can be observed, as well as the means by which ...


Desire, Curiosity, And The Search For Truth In Proust, Moreno, And Bechdel, Santiago Parga Linares Sep 2017

Desire, Curiosity, And The Search For Truth In Proust, Moreno, And Bechdel, Santiago Parga Linares

All Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Marcel Proust’s influence on twentieth century literature is broad and has been well documented. This dissertation attempts a comparative reading of À la recherche du temps perdu that places it in contrast with Colombian writer Marvel Moreno’s 1987 novel, En diciembre llegaban las brisas, and Alison Bechdel’s 2006 comic memoir, Fun Home. Starting from a Deleuzian reading of the Recherche, this dissertation proposes the notion of the “proustian truth seeker”, a thematic and stylistic phenomenon which can be traced in all three writers. The characteristics of the truth seeker can be used to understand the ways in ...


Muriel Rukeyser's "The Book Of The Dead": An Analytical Appreciation, Emily Cogan Sep 2017

Muriel Rukeyser's "The Book Of The Dead": An Analytical Appreciation, Emily Cogan

All Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Muriel Rukeyser’s poetry has always focused around a particular event be it something of global proportions such as the Spanish Civil War (Mediterranean) or the Japanese occupation of Korea (The Gates) or, as with The Book of the Dead, a specific disaster closer to her home, America. Her poetry, however, never exists purely in the realm of politics; she never aligned herself with any particular political party and consequently her poetry is never simply a call to arms or a manifesto in verse. Throughout the body of Rukeyser’s work there are echoes and allusions to poetic traditions, both ...


Between The Cloud And The Page: Repetition And Textuality In Post-Conceptual Poetics, Michael Kirby Jun 2017

Between The Cloud And The Page: Repetition And Textuality In Post-Conceptual Poetics, Michael Kirby

All Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

These three chapters take as their focus the emergent movement of post-conceptual poetry. The first chapter, “What is Post-conceptual Poetry?,” attempts to delineate the varying definitions of post-conceptualism offered by four critics (Felix Bernstein, Diana Hamilton, Vanessa Place, and Robert Fitterman). Finding none of these to be satisfactory, I turn towards the delineation of my own definition of post-conceptualism in the second chapter, “Beckett contra Sade: Two Kinds of Repetition,” which asserts that post-conceptualism may derive a sort of cohesive political agenda from its rejection of both Sadean and Beckettian repetition. “Between the Cloud and the Page,” the third chapter ...


A Girlhood Among Ghosts, An Experimental Project, Maple Wu Jun 2017

A Girlhood Among Ghosts, An Experimental Project, Maple Wu

All Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

“If a woman is going to write a Book of Peace, it is given her to know devastation” – Maxine Hong Kingston, The Fifth Book of Peace.

I do not believe I know devastation. I think to be devastated means one has to experience extreme pain, and live in the aftermath of trauma. I think of this in terms of war, famine, and immigration. A little self-reflection shows that in the twenty-something years of my life, I have not encountered any of the three things listed.

What I do recall, however, is the first time I picked up Maxine Hong Kingston ...


Providential Capitalism: Heavenly Intervention And The Atlantic’S Divine Economist, Ian F.P. Green Jun 2017

Providential Capitalism: Heavenly Intervention And The Atlantic’S Divine Economist, Ian F.P. Green

All Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Providential capitalism names the marriage of providential Christian values and market-oriented capitalist ideology in the post-revolutionary Atlantic through the mid nineteenth century. This is a process by which individuals permitted themselves to be used by a so-called “divine economist” at work in the Atlantic market economy. Backed by a slave market, capital transactions were rendered as often violent ecstatic individual and cultural experiences. Those experiences also formed the bases for national, racial, and classed identification and negotiation among the constellated communities of the Atlantic. With this in mind, writers like Benjamin Franklin, Olaudah Equiano, and Ukawsaw Gronniosaw presented market success ...


Collaboration Revisited: The Performative Art Of Claude Cahun And Hannah Weiner, Phillip L. Griffith Jun 2017

Collaboration Revisited: The Performative Art Of Claude Cahun And Hannah Weiner, Phillip L. Griffith

All Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

In its most common usage in the artistic context, collaboration refers to a practice of creation in which two artists work together to produce a single artwork or object. Collaboration Revisited: The Performative Art of Claude Cahun and Hannah Weiner focuses on the nexus of photography, writing, and performance in the work of six female avant-garde artists from the transatlantic twentieth century, informed by the important place of surrealism in that history, to reconsider this understanding of collaboration. Instead of the notion of collaboration as founded in the experience of two artists working together in each others’ presence, I examine ...


“Without Stopping To Write A Long Apology”: Spectacle, Anecdote, And Curated Identity In Running A Thousand Miles For Freedom, Anjelica La Furno May 2017

“Without Stopping To Write A Long Apology”: Spectacle, Anecdote, And Curated Identity In Running A Thousand Miles For Freedom, Anjelica La Furno

School of Arts & Sciences Theses

Running a Thousand Miles for Freedom unapologetically challenges traditional nineteenth-century notions of race and gender by way of its treatment of spectacle, anecdotal use, and assertion of authorial choices that contradict the expectations of a white abolitionist audience. Its most challenging feature is what I will call Ellen’s “curated identity.”


The Struggle To Re-Establish Anglo Superiority In American Modernism And Its Collapse Into American Tragedy, Jeff Brelvi Jan 2017

The Struggle To Re-Establish Anglo Superiority In American Modernism And Its Collapse Into American Tragedy, Jeff Brelvi

Dissertations and Theses

A study of the impact Anglo race assertion had on American Modernism through the work of Fitzgerald, Hemingway, and T.S. Eliot shaping the discourse on American cultural identity. Arthur Miller and his "Tragedy and the Common Man" put an end to Modernism's Anglo stronghold and brought about the next period of American literature, ushering it into the era of American tragedy.


The Poet And The Polemist: Demystifying The Natural Law Theory Of John Milton, John J. Mazola Dec 2016

The Poet And The Polemist: Demystifying The Natural Law Theory Of John Milton, John J. Mazola

School of Arts & Sciences Theses

A summation of the influences behind Milton's Natural Law theory as found in the works of Aristotle, Grotius, Hobbes, and Thomas Aquinas. The essay's intent is to uncover this important thread that runs through both Milton's Poetic Verse as well as his Polemic tracts.


Between Life And Literature: The Influence Of Don Quixote And Madame Bovary On Twentieth-Century Women's Fiction, Victoria Tomasulo Sep 2016

Between Life And Literature: The Influence Of Don Quixote And Madame Bovary On Twentieth-Century Women's Fiction, Victoria Tomasulo

All Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

This project demonstrates the influence of two foundational novels in the Western canon, Don Quixote and Madame Bovary, on twentieth-century British, Italian, and Anglo-American women’s fiction. Both novels illustrate the dangers and pleasures of literary influence. Stylistically innovative, they anticipated concerns that were of import to feminist literary critics in the seventies and beyond: the transformative power of the reading encounter, its normative and subversive effects on gendered identities, and the need of individual writers to liberate themselves from the shackles of literary convention. Drawing upon textual and paratextual evidence such as interviews, journal entries, and essays, I argue ...


Genres Of Feminist Lives: Autobiography, Archives, And Community, 1970-1983, Meredith A. Benjamin Sep 2016

Genres Of Feminist Lives: Autobiography, Archives, And Community, 1970-1983, Meredith A. Benjamin

All Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

The desire to record lives and the conviction that such recordings would serve an important purpose for other women were the motivations behind much of the autobiographical writing in U.S. feminist writing of the 1970s and 80s. In Genres of Feminist Lives: Autobiography, Archives, and Community, 1970-1983, I argue that feminist writers in this period used autobiographical writing to create a sense of community among their readers: a new feminist public. Realizing the inadequacy of a sense of identification, these writers encouraged their audiences, in the words of Audre Lorde, to transform silence into language and action. While scholars ...


The Strains Of Confessional Poetry: The Burdens, Blunders, And Blights Of Self-Disclosure, Lara Rossana Rodriguez Sep 2016

The Strains Of Confessional Poetry: The Burdens, Blunders, And Blights Of Self-Disclosure, Lara Rossana Rodriguez

All Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

When a provocative style of autobiographical verse had emerged in postwar America, literary critics christened the new genre “confessional poetry.” Confessional poets of the 1960s and ’70s are often characterized by scholars of contemporary poetry as a cohort of writers who, unlike previous generations before them, dared to explore in their work the personal and inherited traumas of mental illness, family suicides, failed marriages, and crushing addictions. As a result, the body of work these writers produced is often experienced as a collection of stylized, literary self-portraits. What can these self-portraits reveal to us about the connection between confessional poetry ...


A Dark Record: Criminal Discourse And The African American Literary Project, 1721-1864, Brian Baaki Jun 2016

A Dark Record: Criminal Discourse And The African American Literary Project, 1721-1864, Brian Baaki

All Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

A Dark Record charts the emergence and traces the evolution of a central figure in American culture, the myth of the black criminal. It does so both to explore the ideological effects of print, and to present an alternative history of African American literature. Historians have long maintained that the association of African Americans with crime solidified in our national culture during the post-Reconstruction period, the nadir for African American civil rights, with a corresponding rise in the over-policing of black individuals and communities. For its part, my study looks back from the post-Reconstruction period, and examines the role earlier ...


City Poems And Urban Crisis, 1945 - Present, Jeffrey Nathan Mickelson Feb 2016

City Poems And Urban Crisis, 1945 - Present, Jeffrey Nathan Mickelson

All Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

City Poems proposes that twentieth-century American city poets hold important concerns, commitments, and strategies in common with urban theorists and city planners. The study situates canonical and lesser-read city poetry, including work by William Carlos Williams, Charles Olson, Allen Ginsberg, George Oppen, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Wanda Coleman, among others, in relation to discourses of urban crisis. Following Raymond Williams, Henri Lefebvre, and James Scully, it approaches city poetry as a form of social action that holds particular value for practitioners of progressive city planning. Because poetic representations of cities influence public perceptions, City Poems suggests, they have the potential to ...


A Passage From Brooklyn To Ithaca: The Sea, The City And The Body In The Poetics Of Walt Whitman And C. P. Cavafy, Michael P. Skafidas Feb 2016

A Passage From Brooklyn To Ithaca: The Sea, The City And The Body In The Poetics Of Walt Whitman And C. P. Cavafy, Michael P. Skafidas

All Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

This treatise is the first extensive comparative study of Walt Whitman and C. P. Cavafy. Despite the abundant scholarship dealing with the work and life of each, until now no critic has put the two poets together. Whitman’s poetry celebrates birth, youth, the self and the world as seen for the first time, while Cavafy’s diverts from the active present to resurrect a world whose key, in Eliot’s terms, is memory. Yet, I see the two poets conversing in the crossroads of the fin de siècle; the American Whitman and the Greek Cavafy embody the antithesis of ...