The problem of the poetic revolutionary

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Campbell, Marion May (2011) The problem of the poetic revolutionary. PhD thesis, Victoria University.


This thesis is a critical and creative exploration of the dynamics by which intertextual literary practices can gain critical and transformative traction in their sociocultural context. From an introduction considering recent debates about the cultural politics of parody, pastiche, and intertextuality allied to avant-garde practice, the study proceeds to an exploration of texts by writers for whom formal and poetic experimentation is allied to a subversive politics: Jean Genet, Monique Wittig, Angela Carter, Kathy Acker, Kathleen Mary Fallon, Kim Scott and Brian Castro. Drawing on theories of intertextuality, parody, representation, and performance from theorists such as Mikhaïl Bakhtin, Julia Kristeva, Gérard Genette, Margaret A. Rose, Linda Hutcheon, Fredric Jameson, Ross Chambers and Judith Butler, these readings explore how a confluence of writing strategies – covering the stylistic, structural, narratological, and scenographic – can work to boost or inhibit a text’s subversive power. The dissertation argues that textual imitation gains its strongest critical and political purchase when it foregrounds its own modes of representation, whether this is on stage or in the scene projected through the writing. The dissertation concludes that, if texts do not act directly on the world, a combination of compositional montage, heteroglossic writing practice, selfreflexive scenography, and carnivalesque writing of the body can deliver an effective critique of oppressive modes of representation. By deconstructing discourses and images whereby power and capital seduce, subjugate, or exclude, by foregrounding the play of contradictions and voices within its own productivity, radical textual practice can also embolden resistance. The literary-critical dissertation is companioned by a creative work, konkretion, which enacts some of the critical subversions examined in the dissertation and explores the cultural relations of poetry and revolution, staging a dialogue between two writers around a poem sequence revisiting the Baader-Meinhof group with a special focus on Ulrike Meinhof and Gudrun Ensslin.

Additional Information

Thesis in two parts: 'Intertextuality and subversion' and 'Konkretion'.

Item type Thesis (PhD thesis)
Subjects Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > School of Communication and the Arts
Historical > FOR Classification > 1904 Performing Arts and Creative Writing
Historical > FOR Classification > 2005 Literary Studies
Keywords Jean Genet, Monique Wittig, Angela Carter, Kathy Acker, Kathleen Mary Fallon, Kim Scott, Brian Castro, Ulrike Meinhof, Gudrun Ensslin, Baader-Meinhof group, poetic revolutionary, revolutions, poems, konkretion, narratives, creative writing
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