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Catalysing encounters: collage in the work of Joseph Cornell, William Burroughs, and Frank O'Hara, 1930-1970

Cran, R; (2012) Catalysing encounters: collage in the work of Joseph Cornell, William Burroughs, and Frank O'Hara, 1930-1970. Doctoral thesis, UCL (University College London).

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Abstract

This thesis offers a cross-section of the workings of collage – a key twentieth-century creative mode – across the disciplines, and on both sides of the Atlantic, navigating a path through plastic art, prose, and poetry, and assessing the medium’s viability as both a physical practice and a theoretical principle. It argues that artistic systems of order, upon whose assumed absence the collage aesthetic is founded, are replaced by intuition. The act of decoding required from the viewer or reader constitutes an intellectual and emotional challenge whose rules of engagement necessitate not necessarily the discovery of any particular message but the gradual discernment of the unique regulating system behind each poem, novel, or work of art. Following the expatriation to America of many European avant-garde artists in the early twentieth century, collage took root particularly amongst New York-based artists and writers seeking broader fields of representation. For Joseph Cornell, William Burroughs, and Frank O’Hara, the medium functioned as an important creative catalyst. Producing collage works largely in response to varying representational crises, they employed it aggressively, experimentally, and cathartically, often as a key part of the process by which their non-collage works were produced. Following my introduction, in which I trace the medium’s development, and propose redefining it more elastically, Chapter One explores the complexities of Cornell’s uses of collage to express himself as an artist. Chapter Two proposes a re-reading of the first two decades of Burroughs’ writing, re-framing the nauseated critical response to his work against a collage backdrop. My third chapter posits O’Hara’s early collage experiments as important developmental acts of aggression against the poetic tradition, and suggests that his later use of the medium was as a primarily conceptual means of ensuring that his readers experience, rather than interpret, his poetry. This thesis is the first interdisciplinary consideration of the collage practice during this period.

Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Title:Catalysing encounters: collage in the work of Joseph Cornell, William Burroughs, and Frank O'Hara, 1930-1970
Language:English
Additional information:Authorisation for digitisation not received
Keywords:Collage, Joseph Cornell, Frank O'Hara, William Burroughs, John Ashbery, Bob Dylan, Surrealism, Abstract Expressionism, New York, New York Poets, Beats, Allen Ginsberg, Interdisciplinary
UCL classification:UCL > School of Arts and Social Sciences > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > English Language and Literature

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