“no key to the tangle”: History And Poetic Consciousness In Louis Zukofsky’s “A”

ASU Author/Contributor (non-ASU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Griffin Carter Rowe (Creator)
Appalachian State University (ASU )
Web Site: https://library.appstate.edu/
Christopher Meade

Abstract: This thesis explores the question of poetry’s relationship with history. My inquiry is centered on the epic poem “A” (1974) by American author Louis Zukofsky, considering the ways in which Zukofsky reconceptualizes the role that the past plays in the construction of a modern poetic consciousness. The project is divided into two sequences: historical representation of movements “A”-22 and “A”-23 and historical engagement in movements “A”-21 and “A”-24. The first sequence is a survey of the ways in which Zukofsky recreates the last 6,000 years of history in a manner that resists linearity and narrative. I read his poetry alongside Walter Benjamin’s “On the Concept of History” (1940) and Gilles Deleuze’s Essays Clinical and Critical (1997) in order to consider the extent to which Zukofsky problematizes historical and literary language in the poetic-now. The second sequence focuses on the historical materials with which Zukofsky engages, primarily the Roman playwright Plautus, as well as Zukofsky’s own previous writing. I contend that Zukofsky method of participating with history in his work is a kind of creative engagement with the past, one that acknowledges history as a living thing and seeks to absorb it into the formation of a new poetics.

Additional Information

Rowe, G. (2019). “no key to the tangle”: History And Poetic Consciousness In Louis Zukofsky’s “A”. Unpublished Master’s Thesis. Appalachian State University, Boone, NC.
Language: English
Date: 2019
Poetics, History, Louis Zukofsky, Epic, Escape-work

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