Photopoetry : a critical history of collaborations between poets and photographers in the Anglophone world, 1845-2015
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This thesis examines the history of collaborations between poets and photographers in the Anglophone world, from 1845 to 2015, and argues for a new form of art distinct from the photobook. It identifies a new body of work, ‘photopoetry’, and develops this discovery into a critical exegesis of its forms and potentials. Proceeding chronologically, this thesis explores photopoetic history from its nineteenth-century roots to modern-day collaborations between renowned poets and photographers. Chapter I examines early experiments in photopoetic form, including scrapbooks and stereographs, and identifies two thematic trends characterising photopoetic history to the present day: the picturesque and the theatrical. The second chapter focuses on the identity politics of photopoetic books in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, exploring how the relationship between poem and photograph can both perpetuate and subvert representations of the objectified other, from British India to the American South. Chapter III theorises Imagism from a photographic perspective, examining how, in the absence of any discernibly modernist photopoetry book, the most important dialogue between poem and photograph was enacted within Imagist verse. It proceeds to examine the introduction of urban environments into early-to-mid-twentieth-century photopoetry. Chapter IV analyses the reinterpretation of photopoetic topography in mid-to-late-twentieth-century collaborations, exploring how picturesque landscapes in nineteenth-century photopoetry were reinvented as immersive environments that echoed the rise of photopoetic co-authorship and the development of more symbiotic, less literal photopoetic relationships. The fifth chapter expands upon ideas analysed in Chapter IV, arguing how, in narrowing both poetic and photographic focus to objects rather than picturesque vistas, twenty-first-century photopoetry encourages a non-linear approach to reading and viewing, abandoning the ‘journey’ paradigm of earlier photopoetry. Overall, this thesis represents the first book-length history of photopoetry, and expounds both a new area of analysis for scholars of text and image, and a new critical discourse for such analyses.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
Embargo Date: 2020-10-22
Embargo Reason: Thesis restricted in accordance with University regulations. Electronic copy restricted until 22nd October 2020
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