Labyrinth Research Bibliography

Bibliography of Studies Related to Labyrinth Research (.pdf 348K)

This downloadable Bibliography has all entries sorted by author. The entries in the bibliography have been categorized below by topic and also by type (doctoral dissertation, journal article etc.).

Subjects in a classical labyrinth: Tradition, speech and empire in English-language poetry

McMorris, M. D.

Abstract: This dissertation, "Subjects in a Classical Labyrinth: Tradition, Speech and Empire in English-Language Poetry," seeks to re-open the question of English literary tradition in anglophone poetry from the perspective of the recent history of decolonization. Framed around the established and continuing presence of Greco-Latin material in U.S. and Caribbean poetry since World War II, the dissertation argues that influential 20th-century accounts of tradition rely upon an array of tropes of continuity in blood and family, territorial consolidation, and imperial dominion to regulate the meaning of the Greeks and the Romans to modern literature in English. Against this rhetorical background the poem that displays the marks of the accumulated prestige of the antique corpus appears to be a participant in a diminishing or diminished tradition, one that is at odds with conceptions of poetry as speech-based, culturally-determined expression reflective of a locality, nation, or national subject. Tightly structured by the ironic opposition between tradition--"the western tradition has been Latin, and Latin means Rome"--and speech-- "no art is more stubbornly national than poetry"--as we meet it in Eliot's essays of the forties which I discuss at length, my thesis goes on to treat texts by poets from the Caribbean and the U.S. (centrally, Kamau Brathwaite, Derek Walcott, and Louis Zukofsky) as sites where the long history of the politicized transmission of the learning preserved, extracted, and formulated from the antique corpus, as Western heritage--or as Fanon says, "the Greco-Latin pedestal" collides with the commitment of the poem to maintaining a close relationship to the indigenous colloquial idiom of the poet's own cultural environment. The thesis of Greco-Latin tradition as a force of contention is historically grounded by one chapter devoted to the rhetoric of empire that informs the prosodical dispute in writers of the English Renaissance.

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