Presenter: Joseph Wright
Paper Topic area: Experimental Writing and Aesthetics
Presentation Title: This Lyric Forever Error: Kathleen Fraser's Experimental Poetry
Abstract: Kathleen Fraser’s experimental language poetry, as well as her chosen poetic themes, have proved crucial in the development and expansion of poetic genre for women. The epic, lyric, and narrative forms were all the canonical literary tools and genres formed by and readily available to European white males. Consequently, these genres were restrictive and degrading to minority and female poets because of constant comparison to white masculine standards. In the first half of the 20th century, women such as Emily Dickinson, Sylvia Plath, Christina Rossetti, and H.D. worked to expand genre and create a voice for women in these traditional Eurocentric male-dominated forms. These women recognized the necessity of forming a new poetic voice for women to use in order to break into the poetic front and, at last, have their unique voice and experience appreciated. Kathleen Fraser advocated for a new effort in the second half of the 20th century that began with the understanding that women needed a new genre, and through subject matter needed to form that genre as a traditional feminized one. In accordance with her creed, Fraser wrote in the emerging experimental/language style and often dealt with the complications of being female as her subject matter. In addition to her poetry, Fraser’s role in HOW(ever), the female-exclusive literary magazine of the late 80’s and early 90’s, was essential in the development of genre in women’s writing. By examining biographical and historical information and implementing a close reading of her poetry, we discover how Fraser used experimental poetry as a means of breaking free from traditional poetic genre and creating a new space that was distinctly feminine. By understanding the ways in which Fraser evolved despite a tumultuous and masculinized poetic realm, a greater understanding of how the female poet functioned in experimental poetics during the second half of the twentieth century can be gained.
This abstract was written by a Fall 2011 ENG669 student and was accepted at the same U GA conference as above:
Author: Christopher Brean
Murray (Chris is now PhD candidate in creative writing and literature at
University of Houston)
Institution: North Carolina State University
Title: Gogol’s Masks: Decoding the Bizarre in “The Nose” and “The Overcoat”
While the tales of Nikolai Gogol—particularly “The Nose” and “The Overcoat”—strike some readers as bizarre or merely humorous, and while they have been read by others as realistic critiques of Russian bureaucracy, they are, I propose, complex works of fiction, often more tragic than comic, which not only depict the bewildering adventures of their characters, but which explore deep human anxieties about alienation, powerlessness, and
the fallibility of the human body. These stories also raise important philosophical questions about the nature of objective truth and, consequently, about the validity of the convention of omniscient narration in fiction. As strange as it is that “The Nose” is about a barber who finds such an appendage in a loaf of bread and another man who wakes to find that his nose (the same one) has transformed into a State Councilor, when the character missing the nose declares, “my…nose, which is the same as myself,” we see that the story uses imagination to explore profound human anxieties about identity and about its characters’ futile attempts to remedy their spiritual crises. Gogol’s stories often present absurd and/or bizarre situations, yet, while the details Gogol provides sometimes lead nowhere in terms of plot development, they reveal the author’s skepticism about the
ability of human beings to access or grasp “reality” or find meaning in life’s misfortunes. A close examination of Gogol’s literary techniques reveals his tales, often hailed as comic masterpieces or critiques of bureaucracy, to be wildly imaginative explorations of human frailty that complicate the notion of objective truth and critique the convention of omniscient narration in fiction.