An aesthetics of resistance : the open-ended practice of language writing

University dissertation from Uppsala : Department of Philosophy, Uppsala University


This dissertation investigates the relation between poetry and theory in the poetic practice of language writing. The topic is approached from the idea that language writing takes place in the tension of an open-ended state. In Chapter 1 it is argued that language writing is constituted in relation to a poetic context, and that it reactivates traits intrinsic to the avant-garde discourse, which corresponds to some characteristics in poststructuralism and critical theory. These perspectives appear in the poetic practice of language writing in terms of a rejection of transparency and separation. The stress on construction in language and writing eliminates the distinction between theory and poetry. It is argued that language writing cannot be seen as a movement in the traditional sense of the word since the poetic work resists aesthetic coherence. The heterogeneity of language writing confirms theory's contribution to the poetic practice but without creating a separation between the two. The first section of Chapter 2 addresses the l=a=n=g=u=a=g=e journal with a focus on a poetological context, avant-garde discourse, theory and criticism. The texts in this journal activate the open-ended state by acknowledging context and theory while they simultaneously reject the conventional style of the essay or the review. In the second section of this chapter, in the analysis of four language writers, Bruce Andrews, Charles Bernstein, Lyn Hejinian and Ron Silliman, it is argued that their poetic practice eliminates the distinction between poetry and poetics since poetry emerges as a critical study in itself, where self-reflexivity prevents the creation of poetry in a conventional sense and prevents a separation from poetics. Although poetry is connected with society, the autonomy of poetry, form and poetic language is stressed as a critical, transgressive potential in relation to conventional distinctions between poetry, theory, poetics and criticism.

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