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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Poetry Unbound: Sounding the Language of Materiality in the Works of Man Ray, Henri Chopin and Gerhard Rühm – A Reading through Wittgenstein, Benjamin, Merleau-Ponty and Kittler
by Schwakopf, Nadine, Ph.D., Yale University, 2017, 235; 10783465
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation is meant to be the scene of an experiment. It is meant to be a scene of observation and auscultation striving to fathom the work of poiesis as it manifests itself in select pieces of experimental poetry created by artists and writers of the 20th-century avant-gardes. Our study notably poses the question of how poiesis draws on, and seeks to incorporate the experience of sensible things, examining also how this accentuation of perception in the making of a poem feeds into, viz. falls in line with the accentuation of the poem's sensible thing-ness. We will investigate how the abovementioned artists undertake to "make sense" of their experience of the things of the life-world, namely by grounding the signifying of their poetry in the mattering of poietic matter. We will investigate how their poems come to produce sense qua their mere being sensible, i.e. qua their being sensible as visual and/or aural matter that matters to us by virtue of its very visual and/or aural phenomenality.

As we will argue, with this emphasis on the production of a sensible presence, these poetic experiments not only establish the primacy of perception, but – more important – they also prove to loosen, and oftentimes even cut the close ties that poiesis is commonly considered to have with the semiotic order. Thus, instead of fabricating a communicational language, the experiment called poiesis giving rise to these works is in the first place destined to create the poem as a material thing. We will show that, as such a material thing, the experimental poem interpellates the senses via a language of materiality that, for its part, translates the materiality of the things of the life-world. We will show that, in lieu of straightforwardly abiding by the laws of semioticity, the poietic language of the works we are about to encounter rather emanates from the poems' very physique; i.e., that this "physical" language forged in defiance of the semiotic order thus rather proves to be consubstantial with the mattering of the matter that gives shape to the body of the poem.

In the course of our study, we will pay particular attention to how the work of poiesis – as it comes to crystallize and persist in the bodiliness of the respective poem – is, namely, pregnant with the gestures and the flesh of the body that conceived it. Beginning with the surface analysis of the physiognomy of a work by Man Ray, we will then turn to delving into the depths of the poems' corporeality. Anatomizing pieces from the oeuvres of Henri Chopin and Gerhard Rühm, we will discover – step-by-step and layer-by-layer – how both the scriptural and the oral practices constituting their work are infused with the pulsating of the human body. As we will suggest, the sensing of the scriptural and aural anatomies that build the body of Chopin's and Rühm's works always involves the sensing of the displaced and disfigured human body. This turn of poiesis to the human senses thus allows for a sensitization of the works themselves – in the sense that they become sensible bodies whose very bodiliness embraces, re-appropriates, and exudes the materiality of the life-world.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Campe, Rudiger
School: Yale University
School Location: United States -- Connecticut
Source: DAI-A 79/05(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Comparative literature, Modern literature, Art Criticism
Keywords: Corporeality, Experimental Poetry, Materiality in Literature, Multimedia Poetry, Perception in Literature and Art
Publication Number: 10783465
ISBN: 978-0-355-70931-5
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