A Semanalytic Approach to Modern Poetry: Examining Elizabeth Bishop Through the Theories of Julia Kristeva
Wilson, Brandy Michelle
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In utilizing Kristeva's psychoanalytic discursive theory of identity-formation within literary symbolic structures, my thesis seeks to follow the ontological processes involved in identity and signification in “subversive” signifying practices. Specifically, I'm interested in the ways modern poetry (such as Elizabeth Bishop) defies traditional patriarchal discourse as dominant literary devices while embracing plurality and inherent virtues of the female voice. My project will trace Kristeva's semiotic/psychoanalytic evolution from linguistic models of the signifying process, to particulars of her psychoanalytic/linguistic theories, and finally, will attempt to construct a space within modern poetry, where it can be said, the subject (poet) remains on trial/in crisis, and poetic expression reveals the “jouissance” or unspoken voice of repression. Bishop's poetry constantly questions reality, knowledge, sexuality and the self. I strive to expose how Bishop's poetry performs Kristeva's theory of the self in writing; her poetry puts at the core of the self a sense of loss in her attempts to express herself in language. I offer close readings of “The Fish,” “Questions of Travel,” and “One Art,” to show how Bishop's self exposes the unconscious process of poetic activity. Kelly Oliver articulates Kristeva's contributions to linguistics and psychoanalysis quite succinctly, “When we learn to embrace the return of the repressed/the foreigner within ourselves, then we learn to live with, and love, others” (14).
- Masters Theses