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Trials of Device : Wallace Stevens and the Realities of Poetic Language

Holander, Stefan LU (2005)
Abstract (Swedish)
Popular Abstract in Swedish

Det här är en studie av Wallace Stevens poetik och poesi med inriktning på 1930-talet, då hans poesi påverkades av en kraftig kulturell press på socialt engagemang och politisk användbarhet. Argumentet framställer hur olika men samverkande element i hans poetiska språk, som diktion, prosodi och metafor, under den här perioden utnyttjas för att skapa ett intryck av estetisk "stängdhet"; både negativt i form av estetisk och uttrycksmässig maktlöshet, och positivt, som ett tecken på skapandekraft och språklig förändring. I detta hänseende behandlas den kunskapsteoretiskt och etiskt laddade frågan om vilken roll som anti-semantiska element och språklig svårighet spelar i Stevens poetiska uttryck.... (More)
Popular Abstract in Swedish

Det här är en studie av Wallace Stevens poetik och poesi med inriktning på 1930-talet, då hans poesi påverkades av en kraftig kulturell press på socialt engagemang och politisk användbarhet. Argumentet framställer hur olika men samverkande element i hans poetiska språk, som diktion, prosodi och metafor, under den här perioden utnyttjas för att skapa ett intryck av estetisk "stängdhet"; både negativt i form av estetisk och uttrycksmässig maktlöshet, och positivt, som ett tecken på skapandekraft och språklig förändring. I detta hänseende behandlas den kunskapsteoretiskt och etiskt laddade frågan om vilken roll som anti-semantiska element och språklig svårighet spelar i Stevens poetiska uttryck. Avhandlingen beskriver några av Stevens mest centrala bilder för poetiskt skapande i detta skedet av hans författarskap, och föreslår hur dessa blir en del av Stevens senare ideer om poesi, när kontroversiella termer som "evasion" och "escapism" blev centrala begrepp för poetisk skaparkraft.



Stevens prosodi diskuteras utifrån ett eklektiskt analytiskt ramverk där kumulativ rytmik komplementeras av traditionell metrik för att tydliggöra hans varierade och kognitivt ostabila användande av vers-språk. Rytmens uttrycksliga potential förstås både som en konsekvens av dess motstånd mot semantisk tolkning och genom läsarens vilja till att samtolka den med diktens semantiska och metaforiska sceneri. En dikt förstås i sin tur både som ett strategiskt och stilistiskt undvikande svar på en konkret historisk situation, och ett försök att kommunicera genom att skapa ett intryck av språkligt motstånd och "annanhet". (Less)
Abstract
This dissertation studies Wallace Stevens? ideas and practice of poetic language with a focus on the 1930s, an era in which Stevens persistently thematized a keenly felt pressure for the possible social involvement and political utility of poetic language. The argument suggests how mutually implicated elements of his poetry such as diction, prosody and metaphor are relied on to signify or enact aesthetic closure; both in the negative terms of expressive impotence and unethical isolation and the positive ones of imaginative and linguistic change. In this respect, the study deals closely with the epistemologically and ethically fraught issue of the ambiguous and volatile role of non-semantic elements and linguistic difficulty in Stevens?... (More)
This dissertation studies Wallace Stevens? ideas and practice of poetic language with a focus on the 1930s, an era in which Stevens persistently thematized a keenly felt pressure for the possible social involvement and political utility of poetic language. The argument suggests how mutually implicated elements of his poetry such as diction, prosody and metaphor are relied on to signify or enact aesthetic closure; both in the negative terms of expressive impotence and unethical isolation and the positive ones of imaginative and linguistic change. In this respect, the study deals closely with the epistemologically and ethically fraught issue of the ambiguous and volatile role of non-semantic elements and linguistic difficulty in Stevens? language. Assuming that these facets are not exclusive to this period but receives a very clear, and therefore instructive, formulation in it, the discussion outlines some of Stevens? most central tropes for poetic creativity at this stage of his career, suggesting ways in which they came to form part of his later discourse on poetic functionality, when polemical concepts for the imagination, such as ?evasion? and ?escapism?, became central. Stevens? prosody is discussed from within an eclectic analytical framework in which cumulative rhythmics is complemented by traditional metrics as a way of doing justice to his rich, varied and cognitively volatile use of verse language. The expressive potency of prosodic patterning is understood both as an effect of its resistance to semantic interpretation and by assuming a formal drive to interpret them in relation to the semantic and metaphoric staging of individual poems. A poem, in turn, is understood both as a strategic, stylistically deviant response to the challenges of a particular historical moment, and as an attempt to communicate through creating a sense of linguistic resistance and otherness. (Less)
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author
supervisor
opponent
  • Dr. Maeder, Beverly, Université de Lausanne
organization
publishing date
type
Thesis
publication status
published
subject
keywords
literary theory, literature criticism, General and comparative literature, poetic prosody, metrics, rhythmic theory, Literary ethics, metaphor, modernism, Wallace Stevens, Allmän och jämförande litteratur, litteraturkritik, litteraturteori, English language and literature, Engelska (språk och litteratur)
pages
225 pages
publisher
English Studies
defense location
Room 201, the Department of Cultural Sciences, Lund University.
defense date
2005-05-28 10:15
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
61616269-1ee9-47b0-8ad3-5b28763c5b5f (old id 25048)
date added to LUP
2007-06-04 08:58:21
date last changed
2016-09-19 08:45:14
@phdthesis{61616269-1ee9-47b0-8ad3-5b28763c5b5f,
  abstract     = {This dissertation studies Wallace Stevens? ideas and practice of poetic language with a focus on the 1930s, an era in which Stevens persistently thematized a keenly felt pressure for the possible social involvement and political utility of poetic language. The argument suggests how mutually implicated elements of his poetry such as diction, prosody and metaphor are relied on to signify or enact aesthetic closure; both in the negative terms of expressive impotence and unethical isolation and the positive ones of imaginative and linguistic change. In this respect, the study deals closely with the epistemologically and ethically fraught issue of the ambiguous and volatile role of non-semantic elements and linguistic difficulty in Stevens? language. Assuming that these facets are not exclusive to this period but receives a very clear, and therefore instructive, formulation in it, the discussion outlines some of Stevens? most central tropes for poetic creativity at this stage of his career, suggesting ways in which they came to form part of his later discourse on poetic functionality, when polemical concepts for the imagination, such as ?evasion? and ?escapism?, became central. Stevens? prosody is discussed from within an eclectic analytical framework in which cumulative rhythmics is complemented by traditional metrics as a way of doing justice to his rich, varied and cognitively volatile use of verse language. The expressive potency of prosodic patterning is understood both as an effect of its resistance to semantic interpretation and by assuming a formal drive to interpret them in relation to the semantic and metaphoric staging of individual poems. A poem, in turn, is understood both as a strategic, stylistically deviant response to the challenges of a particular historical moment, and as an attempt to communicate through creating a sense of linguistic resistance and otherness.},
  author       = {Holander, Stefan},
  keyword      = {literary theory,literature criticism,General and comparative literature,poetic prosody,metrics,rhythmic theory,Literary ethics,metaphor,modernism,Wallace Stevens,Allmän och jämförande litteratur,litteraturkritik,litteraturteori,English language and literature,Engelska (språk och litteratur)},
  language     = {eng},
  pages        = {225},
  publisher    = {English Studies},
  school       = {Lund University},
  title        = {Trials of Device : Wallace Stevens and the Realities of Poetic Language},
  year         = {2005},
}