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Speaking Beyond Words: George Oppen's Late Poetry as an Exploration of Cognition

MacKay, Duncan (2017) Speaking Beyond Words: George Oppen's Late Poetry as an Exploration of Cognition. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent,. (Access to this publication is currently restricted. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided)

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Abstract

The Creative component of this submission is a poem series entitled [Happenstance]. Written within the frame of the middle period of the research process at a rate of approximately one per week for a year, each poem focuses on the research preoccupations of the moment as they infiltrate daily life. They have the deliberate intent of mixing literary critical with cognitive scientific language as content, of blending these discourses with the every day, and of balancing the spontaneity of conversational tone with a deliberation of poetic language, all within an open field format. The focus is on writing as an enactment of cognition, the process made manifest, a practice that parallels the later work of American poet George Oppen. The gripe that Oppen expressed against 'poems with too much point' is explored, being both subverted and validated through the speculatively propositional. The Analytical component focuses on the poetry of Oppen's last three collections: Seascape Needle's Eye (1972), Myth of the Blaze (1975), and Primitive (1978); alongside his published correspondence, his published notes, and the opinions of his principal literary critics. The discussion seeks to identify the evidence for, and consequences of, Oppen's preoccupation with matters of cognition in the final decade of his writing life. Correlations are sought between Oppen's own understanding of the relationship between experience, meaning, and language, and the insights gleaned into these processes from the subsequent four decades of research in cognitive linguistics, cognitive psychology, and the neurosciences. Oppen returned to writing in the late 1950s under the influence particularly of ideas gleaned from Jacques Maritain. To these were added the phenomenological influence of Martin Heidegger and Georg W.F. Hegel's reflections on speculative thinking. Also of significance in initiating Oppen's inward turn in poetic process was the disruptive emotional impact of his Pulitzer Prize recognition of 1969. Oppen's experience suggests that where cognitive studies and poetics meet may be ground in which new conceptual and aesthetic possibilities for poetry emerge. At its simplest we may ask whether Oppen's personal insights as recorded through his poems, notes and correspondence remain valid in the light of modern day cognitive sciences, rather than merely for their historical interest and, if the former, what they might continue to teach a contemporary poet such as myself.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: Smith, Simon
Thesis advisor: Hickman, Ben
Uncontrolled keywords: Poetics, Cognition, George Oppen, cognitive psychology, cognitive linguistics, speculative proposition, cognitive poetics, embodiued cognition, image schema,objectivists
Divisions: Faculties > Humanities > School of English
SWORD Depositor: System Moodle
Depositing User: System Moodle
Date Deposited: 08 Dec 2017 16:10 UTC
Last Modified: 29 May 2019 20:01 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/65150 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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