The so-called New York School : a feminist (re)vision in six poets
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The ubiquity with which ‘so-called’ precedes critical iterations of ‘the New York School’ highlights the fundamental instability not only of this label, but also the concept of the poetic school more generally, yet bypasses much of the necessary work of destabilisation. This thesis is a critical examination of the ways in which the New York School has been conceived and constructed, and the marginalisations that occur as a result of such structures. Taking as its basis Griselda Pollock’s definition of the canon as ‘a discursive formation which constitutes the objects/texts it selects as the products of artistic mastery and, thereby, contributes to the legitimation of white masculinity’s exclusive identification with creativity and with Culture,’ it offers up a major revision to the way in which the New York School has been read, taught, and anthologised as a group of men. Since Maggie Nelson’s Women, The New York School, and Other True Abstractions (2007), there has been little development of her ideas, particularly in light of the rapidly changing landscape of contemporary poetry, and scant work has been done on the poets that she omits. Beginning with these theoretical problems, the thesis moves through six poets associated with the school — Barbara Guest, V.R. “Bunny” Lang, Alice Notley, Bernadette Mayer, Anne Waldman, and Eileen Myles — making use of a socio-biographical approach and substantial close reading in order to reassess, reframe, or discuss their work for the first time. This study is as much a queer project as it is a feminist project-of-recovery; it does not strive to find feminist/proto-feminist poets or poetics, but rather to disrupt received hierarchies, paradigms, and entrenched critical positions. It aims not to replicate hegemonic systems of criticism by assimilating women poets into the canon of the New York School, but to question the foundation of that canon, reformulating the school into a lens through which these poets can be usefully viewed, whilst simultaneously suggesting that they form a significant part of that lens.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
Embargo Date: 2024-02-01
Embargo Reason: Thesis restricted in accordance with University regulations. Electronic copy restricted until 1st February 2024
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