Skip to main content

Women & Elegy: Towards Destructuring Economies of Loss and Reconfiguring Elegiac Tradition.

Perry, Eleanor (2016) Women & Elegy: Towards Destructuring Economies of Loss and Reconfiguring Elegiac Tradition. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.54807) (Access to this publication is currently restricted. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:54807)

Language: English

Restricted to Repository staff only
[thumbnail of 118Thesis with corrections (for uploading)- E.PERRY.pdf]
Official URL


This thesis investigates—and seeks to address—the excision, marginalization and sequestering of female work within the elegiac tradition. Beginning with an analysis of key texts in elegy scholarship from the last thirty years, and the ways in which they participate in—and perpetuate—this marginalization, the thesis develops a transhistorical sketch of the elegiac tradition. This sketch examines the evolution of elegy as a genre, outlining Western cultural frameworks for understanding mourning, and historical perspectives which consider grief expression as a threat requiring constraint; as well as significant shifts in medical, theological and philosophical conceptions of melancholy—in order to delineate how and why women’s elegiac work has been marginalized within the traditional canon. This includes an in-depth critique and analysis of Freud’s 1917 paper ‘Mourning and Melancholia,’ upon which much of current elegy scholarship depends, approaching both the gendered binary within Freud’s model, and the framework of economics which he uses to illustrate this model. This analysis is then extended through the post-Freudian work of Irigaray and Kristeva, as well as subsequent feminist thinkers, in order to question how we might begin to rectify the marginalization of female work without effacing the contexts within which it has been marginalized. These ideas are then extended and developed through the close reading of contemporary elegies by Susan Howe, Kristin Prevallet, Anne Carson, Maggie O’Sullivan and Claudia Rankine, investigating, among other things, erasure; resistance to closure; error and failure; disruption of reading practices; lyric instability and possibilities of shared grief. The length of the critical section of the thesis and extensive use of footnotes have both been agreed with my supervisory team on account of the scope of the project, and the examples required to demonstrate its argument. The critical section is followed by a collection of poetry made up of four interrelated sequences. These sequences seek to continue the arguments raised in the thesis, and reflect on the research demonstrated therein, specifically interrogating master narratives such as language, myth and history, in order to question notions of lament and pastoral; exploring the limits of the lyric and the possibility of speaking with, rather than speaking for an other; and the poential for harm within processes of textual recovery and memorialization.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: Smith, Simon
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.54807
Additional information: The author of this thesis has requested that it be held under closed access. We are sorry but we will not be able to give you access or pass on any requests for access. 11/11/2021
Uncontrolled keywords: Elegy; poetry; women; Howe; Prevallet; Rankine; Carson; O'Sullivan; Freud; pastoral; witches; Rome; Canterbury; irigaray; Kristeva; death; loss; mourning;
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PE English philology and language
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of English
Depositing User: Users 1 not found.
Date Deposited: 06 Apr 2016 17:00 UTC
Last Modified: 11 Nov 2021 08:50 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
  • Depositors only (login required):