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"Putting my shoulder to the wheel": America's homosexual epics in the twentieth century.

Davies, C.A.; (2007) "Putting my shoulder to the wheel": America's homosexual epics in the twentieth century. Doctoral thesis , University of London. Green open access

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Abstract

This thesis examines five poems by four twentieth-century poets who have explored the epic tradition. Some of the poems display an explicit concern with ideas of American nationhood, while others emulate the formal ambitions and encyclopaedic scope of the epic poem. The study undertakes extensive close readings of Hart Crane's The Bridge (1930), Allen Ginsberg's "Howl" (1956) and The Fall of America: Poems of These States 1965-71 (1972), James Merrill's The Changing Light at Sandover (1982), and John Ashbery's Flow Chart (1991). Although it is not primarily an account of a Whitmanian lineage, the thesis considers Whitman's renegotiation of the dialectic between the public and the private as a context for the project of the homosexual epic, arguing for the existence of a genealogy of epic poems that rethink the relationship between these two spheres. The difficulties presented by the epic poem's foundations in commonality constitute the starting-point for this discussion of four homosexual poets who have risen to the ideological challenge that the epic tradition presents for a minority voice. The thesis examines how these poets have rethought and modified the epic poem, and explores the different kinds of dialogue each develops with their precursors, both European and American. It also pays close attention to the ways in which each poem figures its presumed audience.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: "Putting my shoulder to the wheel": America's homosexual epics in the twentieth century.
Identifier: PQ ETD:592005
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Dept of English Lang and Literature
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1444696
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