Experiment and representation : the domestic surreal in contemporary British and American poetry
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In order to counter what I regard as premature and reductive formulations of a 'native' British postmodernism, I identify a specific tendency in contemporary writing which I name the domestic surreal, and which I trace through the poetry of John Ashbery, Frank O'Hara, Roy Fisher, Christopher Middleton, John Ash, Peter Didsbury and Ian McMillan. Through close reading and a comparative approach, I uncover key preoccupations with idiosyncratic perception, shared experience, urban space and poetic play. I also describe a network of allegiances and influence among these writers which reveals the domestic surreal to be one of the contemporary manifestations of an imaginative tradition which stretches back through the Surrealist and Cubist movements to Baudelaire and Rimbaud. For the poets of the domestic surreal, engagement with an aesthetic tradition is inextricably linked with their response to contemporary conditions. Drawing on dialectical and poststructuralist perspectives, I propose that the domestic surreal attempts to resist the constraints of social and aesthetic consensus in Britain and America in the period following the Second World War.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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