This thesis explores mid-length verse narratives, written by Dana Gioia, Sydney Lea, and Robert McDowell and tries to understand how we might better approach these poems, which represent the central experiments of the New Formalist enterprise. These verse narratives have remained overlooked by scholars and rejected by early critics on purely ideological grounds. Written over the past twenty-five years, they challenge Modernist experimentation, which had become the new orthodoxy that primarily focused on and exhausted the lyric mode of expression. This study combines close readings of the verse narratives together with a vast corpus of critical essays by the practitioners of New Formalism. It identifies a gap in narratological studies that renders the poetic aspect of the narratives irrelevant. By applying the Russian formalist concepts of suzjet to include the lineation and compression of time in these poems as it relates to the fabula, this study reverses that trend. As these narratives converge on the theme of violence, a Christian tragedy of possibility emerges, leading to the chief conclusion of this thesis: These poems are the story. It becomes evident that the tragic mode in which these poets write is perfectly suited to the compressed nature of their poems. The theme of violence is a metaphor for the broad cultural problem of illiteracy and abandoned literary forms and traditions, including rhyme and meter, that have rendered tragedy dead to contemporary poetry and threatens the total extinction of writing the epic of our time.
|Department:||English and American Literature and Language|
|School Location:||United States -- Massachusetts|
|Source:||MAI 54/04M(E), Masters Abstracts International|
|Keywords:||Expansive poetry, Gioia, dana, Lea, sydney, McDowell, rRobert, New formalism, Verse narrative|
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