Rhetoricizing the avant-garde: the illegible as argumentShow full item record
|Rhetoricizing the avant-garde: the illegible as argument
|Doctor of Philosophy
|Capitalizing on a renewal of interest in the rapprochement between literary and rhetorical study, this dissertation examines the avant-garde's illegible (or mysterious") nature as a form of argumentation that calls into question prevailing systems of linguistic, political, and social control. It is my primary contention that reading vanguard texts through the lens of rhetorical theory enables us to fully account for the connection between radical changes in poetic language and radical changes in social relations. In my first chapter, I pair poet Erica Hunt with Chaim Perelman and Lucie Olbrechts-Tyteca to argue that poetic opposition is founded upon innovative language practices that unite members of a community and then persuade them to resist the totalizing pronouncements of a culture's dominant discourse. Chapter Two explores the connections between Lyn Hejinian and philosopher Susanne Langer.^This chapter suggests that, by embracing non-discursive form, Hejinian's My Life argues for a more ethical relationship among poets, texts, and readers that remains perpetually open to the full range of human perception made possible via aesthetic experience. In Chapter Three, I argue that Jackson Mac Low's "5 biblical poems" utilize chance and erasure as strategies for securing unending dialogue within an interpretive community. Similar to Kenneth Burke's pure persuasion, Mac Low challenges the privilege of the speaking subject and opens the space necessary for new understandings of rhetorical ethos. The dissertation's closing chapter draws upon each of these theorists to present a comprehensive rhetoricized reading of John Ashbery's Girls on the Run. I demonstrate how Girls argues for new conceptions of gender and community rooted in the belief that closure and certainty are inimical to the long-term health of the aesthetic and the social realms.^In dedicating each chapter to a specific poet and theorist, this dissertation illustrates the extent to which the illegible becomes readable when viewed as a rhetorically motivated act. These pairings demonstrate that the New Rhetoric of the twentieth century offers both a method for reading the avant-garde's famed difficulty and a vehicle for opening lines of cross-disciplinary communication between the field of rhetoric and the field of literature"--Abstract.
|Robbins, Sarah Ruffing
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- Doctoral Dissertations