Passionate destruction, passionate creation: art and anarchy in the work of Dennis Cooper

Hester, Diarmuid (2015) Passionate destruction, passionate creation: art and anarchy in the work of Dennis Cooper. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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Abstract

The subject of this thesis is the life and work of the American writer Dennis Cooper. It is the first book-length appraisal of his career, which regards his poetry, prose, and innovative employment of new media from the perspective of his avowed anarchism. Situating his work within the context of American and French literary history and traditions of anarchist thought, I identify and pursue a dialectic that recurs in his work between, on the one hand, a commitment to subjective experience and individuality and, on the other, a desire for community and communion with others.
Comprising five chapters, the work is roughly chronological in organization. I begin with an examination of Cooper’s early poetry collection Idols, in order to establish the basic features of an outlook that is hospitable to anarchist thought. I next consider Cooper’s attempts at microcommunity-building in Los Angeles and show that his efforts brought together a vibrant community of young poets off the Venice Beach boardwalk in the late 1970s. Staying on the West Coast, the third chapter compares Cooper’s work with that of San Francisco New Narrativists Robert Glück and Bruce Boone, in order to examine radical and reformist approaches to writing homosexuality in the wake of Gay Liberation. The penultimate chapter is devoted to Cooper’s most famous work, the five-novel series called the George Miles cycle: I uncover the intricate systems he uses to structure the cycle and ask what his experiments might mean for anarchist writing. Finally, I turn to Cooper’s largest project to date, his blog, and argue that he uses its simple apparatus to produce ideal conditions for the ephemeral appearance of an anarchist cyber-network.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of English > English
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PR English literature > PR0161 By period > PR0401 Modern > PR0471 20th century
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 04 Dec 2015 11:15
Last Modified: 25 Apr 2019 08:27
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/58069

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