Award Date

5-15-2018

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

English

First Committee Member

Donald Revell

Second Committee Member

Claudia Keelan

Third Committee Member

Emily Setina

Fourth Committee Member

Susanna Newbury

Number of Pages

76

Abstract

& One Night the World Will Have Changed is a collection of poems largely concerned with thresholds—what does one have to reconcile when standing at a precipice, when grappling with a crisis of faith, and how does one begin again? The collection is marked by three distinct sections: the first section of poems considers the effects of a devastating storm along with the emotional upheaval of abandonment (both the act of having been left, and then later, of leaving behind one life for a different one.) The second section is a series of prose poems that narrate the aftermath in a collective voice, using first-person plural to act as a literary chorus, as a commentary on the often shared but unspoken experience of trauma. The third section of poems is concerned with beginnings and the hopefulness that accompanies new, or re-vision. The progression of these sections, while not necessarily rigidly sequential, contribute to a narrative arc from grief to possibility.

The notion of community is essential to these poems. In the first section, the subject navigates the anonymity of city life while recognizing the communal aspects of urban dwelling, from “belonging” to a particular neighborhood, to crisis management en masse. In the book’s Khoros (section two), the subject is subsumed into a collective “we”—a “city of daughters” who must shoulder the burden of trauma, but find a way to transcend it together. In the third section, the “I” finds community with the natural world, with a beloved, with family, and begins to understand her life as a reflection of this company.

The heart of the book, its middle section, is the Khoros. As it does in traditional Greek literature, such as Sophoclean and Euripidean drama, the Khoros exists as a collective character who provides context, and sometimes direct narration, for the dramatic action. Just as the Greek chorus was a liaison between actors and audience, this book’s chorus serves as the liaison between the lyric subject and the reader. In terms of the Greeks, however, there was some differentiation in application, as some choruses (i.e. Sophocles’) were integrated within key scenes or dialogues, while others (i.e. Euripides’) served merely as bystanders. Aristotle, in the Poetics, favored the Sophoclean, stating that the chorus should be considered an “actor.” The poems in the chorus of & One Night the World Will Have Changed follow that directive and radically extend it—the chorus becomes the actor and its concerns become the plot itself. The chorus speaks to the reader, but also (and notably) to each other, of its collective experience. While the chorus does inhabit classical traits (homogenous, non-individualized) and the poems are voiced as if speaking in unison—i.e. “We do not sleep”—it also serves to decentralize the traditional lyric “I” and the classical hero narrative by re-authoring the dramatic action through a collective (female) voice. While the classical chorus is a body of citizens whose chief interest is in the protagonist’s success or failure, the Khoros in & One Night...becomes the protagonist—its chief interest is in its own reclamation of the heroic.

Keywords

classical epic poetry; feminism; heroic myth; poetry

Disciplines

Classical Literature and Philology | Creative Writing | Gender and Sexuality | Women's Studies

Language

English

Available for download on Thursday, May 15, 2025


Share

COinS