The poetry and poetics of Douglas Oliver, 1973-1991

Luna, Joseph (2015) The poetry and poetics of Douglas Oliver, 1973-1991. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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Abstract

This dissertation is about the poetry and prose, published and unpublished, of the British poet Douglas Dunlop Oliver (1937-2000), written between 1973-1991. It traces the development of Oliver’s poetics from his early prose through his later poetry of the 1970s and 1980s. The dissertation makes extensive use of archive material stored in the Douglas Oliver Archive at the Albert Sloman Library, University of Essex, the vast majority of which has thus far received little or no critical commentary or appraisal.
Contained in the archive are a set of unpublished essays Oliver wrote as a mature undergraduate at the University of Essex between 1974-1975. In my first chapter, I discuss these essays and examine their philosophical and aesthetic standpoints in order to understand and expand upon Oliver’s published claims about the experience of reading poetry in his theoretical monograph Poetry and Narrative in Performance (1989). Oliver’s thinking about prosody and poetic language are then discussed in relation to his books of poetry on explicitly political subjects, The Diagram--Poems (1979) and The Infant and the Pearl (1985).
My second and third chapters present close readings of Oliver’s poetry with a view to understanding and critiquing the political arguments conducted therein. My second chapter, on The Diagram--Poems, adds to the discussion of prosody the historical significance of Oliver’s thinking about “stupidity,” and reads the poetry’s political intervention in the light of such thinking. My third chapter, on The Infant and the Pearl, reads the poem’s critique of the contemporary political landscape with the help of the extensive scholarship on its prototype, the medieval Pearl, in order to explain and critique Oliver’s poem’s emphasis on national and interpersonal “unity.”
The dissertation argues throughout that the inseparability of poetic form and political feeling is at the heart of Oliver’s practice as a poet.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of English > English
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1010 Poetry
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 02 Jul 2015 10:34
Last Modified: 29 Sep 2015 14:27
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/55079

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