How Poetry Matters: Poetics Of The Object In 20Th Century Brazil, Chile, And The United States

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How Poetry Matters: Poetics of the Object in 20th Century Brazil, Chile, and the United States, explores how poetry, rather than attempting to describe, invoke, or symbolize material objects, can be an object itself. This study argues for four different constructions of poetic objecthood-autonomous, relational, assembled, and architectural. Beginning with Brazil's concrete poetry, this dissertation considers the poem as an autonomous object, wedding the midcentury poetic practices of Haroldo de Campos, Augusto de Campos, and Décio Pignatari to current debates about the object and its ontology, which have traditionally sought to mark their distance from philosophies of language. In its exploration of neoconcrete poetry, this project borrows from artist Lygia Clark's writings on the relational object and Ferreira Gullar's engagement with Merleau-Ponty to propose a "relational poetics" in which the poet, the reader, and the poetic object are mutually constitutive in the moment of phenomenological encounter. In its study of Juan Luis Martínez's La nueva novela, this dissertation considers the poem-object in light of what Manuel DeLanda calls, after Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, "relations of exteriority," connecting what was, for the neoconcretists, a relational poetics, to what is, for Martínez, a material poetics of relation. The final chapter, on U.S. poet Ronald Johnson's concrete epic poem, ARK, brings poetry into contact with both the built environment and the epic, showing that material poetries can both take time and take up space. While many of these examples are more commonly read as art objects, this project situates them inside of poetry, asking, for example, what it means for a poem to be spatial and to invite its reader into a sensorially engaging experience. Together, the four accounts of the poem's objecthood that appear here propose an alternative history of 20th century poetics and argue in favor of a paradigm in which it's not just the poem that makes sense, but the sensible that makes the poem.

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Poetry; Concrete Poetry; Objects


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Erber,Pedro Rabelo

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Culler,Jonathan Dwight

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Comparative Literature

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Ph. D., Comparative Literature

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Doctor of Philosophy

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dissertation or thesis

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