Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

"Modernism is a prophet crying in the wilderness": Mina Loy, manifestoes and prophecy
by Robberson, Jason, M.A., University of Kansas, 2013, 63; 1540921
Abstract (Summary)

This study argues that modernist poet Mina Loy's investment in the power of prophetic discourse and religious revelation is a crucial feature of her idiosyncratic appropriation of the manifesto during the 1910s. Unlike the manifestoes of the futurist movement that directly inform Loy's use of the genre, Loy's manifestoes focus on a visionary expansion of individual consciousness rather than a violent and revolutionary overthrow of institutions. Even as they reject the traditions and institutions of the past in typical futurist fashion, Loy's manifestoes posit a personal evolution of consciousness and a realization of the divine "Macro-cosmic presence" or supra-consciousness as the truer path for escaping the cultural grip of those institutions. For an intensely individual artist like Loy, the prophetic voice also offered a speaking position which did not explicitly place her in the ranks of those movements.

The present work draws on scholarship that examines Loy's relationship to revelatory religious discourse and theories of expanded consciousness, as well as the larger body of scholarship on Loy's poetry and polemic writings during the 1910s. As the examination of prophetic modalities within the form of specific manifesto texts is a complex undertaking made more complex by the facts that (1) the manifesto form is in part a descendant of earlier prophetic forms, and (2) both forms are highly variable, recent analyses of both genres are brought together to delineate as clearly as possible their rhetoric, structure, and performativity. Finally, as Loy's poetic and prosaic uses of the prophetic mode and the language of revelation also suggest compelling connections to her nineteenth-century forbears, those connections are explored in order to make a secondary case that Loy's work should be considered in the context of the tradition of the "poet-prophet," which extends from Old Testament times to nineteenth-century poet-prophets such as Walt Whitman. From this perspective, an argument can be made that Loy shares more in common with her Romantic precursors than the standard narrative of modernism's rejection of the past generally permits.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Harrington, Joseph
Commitee: Fischer, Iris S., Irby, Kenneth
School: University of Kansas
Department: English
School Location: United States -- Kansas
Source: MAI 52/01M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Modern literature, American literature
Keywords: Feminism, Manifesto, Mina loy, Modernism, Performativity, Prophecy
Publication Number: 1540921
ISBN: 978-1-303-21946-7
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