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Roland Barthes and English-language avant-garde poetry, 1970-1990

Gardner, Calum 2016. Roland Barthes and English-language avant-garde poetry, 1970-1990. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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This thesis looks at the engagement of English-language poets with the writing of Roland Barthes, and considers how a reading of Barthes may help understanding of a range of challenging experimental work. The introduction to the thesis lays a groundwork of how Barthes has been read in English since the first widely available translations of his work appeared in the 1960s, and thus establishes the intellectual context in which poets have written since. Beginning in the first chapter with Veronica Forrest-Thomson, the first of these poets to have looked at Barthes in detail, it looks both at poetry and of poets’ writings in the fields of criticism and poetics. From Forrest-Thomson the thesis moves in the second chapter to North America and considers the place of Barthes, particularly his Writing Degree Zero, in the intellectual context out of which emerged what has come to be known as ‘language writing’, combining a survey of this writing with close readings of the work of Ron Silliman, Ray DiPalma, Lyn Hejinian, Bernadette Mayer, and others. In the third chapter, the investigation of this diffuse tendency in poetry is followed through various strands, focussing in particular on periodicals and archival material. Finally, the fourth chapter looks at Anne Carson, Deborah Levy, and Kristjana Gunnars, and considers Barthes’ relevance to their texts’ thinking about writing. The intersection of theory and the emotional life is explored using the theoretical lens of Chris Kraus’ experimental fiction, particularly her notion of a ‘lonely girl phenomenology’. Barthes has had a diverse range of effects on poets’ thinking about writing and their writing practices, and our understanding of Barthes as a writer, what we mean by the ‘Barthesian’, and individual notions of his such as the ‘death of the author’ and his work on the possibilities of the fragment, have changed over time. The thesis considers the potential of Barthes’ writing to help us think about literature and its future utility for poetry studies.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: English, Communication and Philosophy
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN0080 Criticism
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 31 August 2016
Last Modified: 31 May 2018 01:30

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