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    Impossible telling and the epistolary form: contemporary poetry, mourning and trauma

    Lock, Frances Janice (2020) Impossible telling and the epistolary form: contemporary poetry, mourning and trauma. PhD thesis, Birkbeck, University of London.

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    Abstract

    This thesis seeks to specify the key critical components of epistolary poetry as separate and distinct from other poetic genres. This thesis does not provide a comprehensive genealogy of the letter form in poetry, rather it maps significant moments of epistolary eruption across the poetic landscape, tracking important instances of its use and change over time. In doing so this thesis abstracts five key characteristics of the epistolary form in poetry: 1) Doubleness, 2) Indeterminacy / Indiscernibility, 3) Reciprocity / Sociality, 4) Division, 5) Contingency. This thesis does not tell a story of historical development but of form and variation, mapping how these key characteristics are seeded and re-emerge throughout the literary canon. By considering a diverse spectrum of poetic practices this research avoids making the essentialising and highly political value judgements which dominate much of the critical discourse surrounding poetry’s opposing aesthetic dispositions; judgements which tend to valorise accessibility and emotionality on the one hand, and materiality and difference on the other. Rather, this enquiry uses the notion of epistolarity to think across poetic traditions and schools, exposing the overlapping ethical concerns that motivate each. In doing so this thesis is able to identify a significant transition in the uses and focus of contemporary epistolary poetics. This transition is perhaps best defined as the movement from confession, towards testimony. This research constitutes a practice-based, autoethnographic intervention into knowledge, initiated by and drawing upon my own experience of letter writing as both therapeutic strategy and poetic practice. As such, this research is particularly focussed on critical points of intersection between the use of letters in therapeutic practice, and their mobilization by various cohorts within contemporary poetry, united by their thematic concern with trauma, difficulty, and what we might usefully term the unconsoled experience.

    Metadata

    Item Type: Thesis
    Additional Information: 2 Volumes: Volume 1 caoin, narrowcasting, halting sites: works of epistolary grieving, Volume 2: Impossible telling and the epistolary form: contemporary poetry, mourning and trauma
    Copyright Holders: The copyright of this thesis rests with the author, who asserts his/her right to be known as such according to the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. No dealing with the thesis contrary to the copyright or moral rights of the author is permitted.
    Depositing User: Acquisitions And Metadata
    Date Deposited: 10 Sep 2021 11:53
    Last Modified: 12 Sep 2021 06:10
    URI: https://eprints.bbk.ac.uk/id/eprint/45932

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