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Title: ‘Life Lawlessly Poetic’: Italy, Anarchism and American Modernism
Authors: Jolliffe, Michael Douglas
Supervisors: Morley, Catherine
Halliwell, Martin
Award date: 29-Jun-2018
Presented at: University of Leicester
Abstract: In a letter of 1908, William Carlos Williams accused Ezra Pound of preaching 'poetic anarchy'. Seeking clarification, Pound questioned whether by using this term Williams referred to a ‘life lawlessly poetic and poetically lawless mirrored in the verse' or to 'a lawlessness in the materia poetica and metrica'. This project addresses both elements of the dualism to which Pound refers. It is intended as both a biographically-rooted intellectual history and a semiological analysis of 'poetic anarchy' as it pertains to American literary modernism. Unlike previous works on the subject of anarchist modernism, however, it is set in a transatlantic context, using Italy as an intellectual staging post for investigating the long evolution of classical European anarchism, across the fields of politics, philosophy and economics, into enclaves of American modernist production. Significantly expanding on current scholarship, this project investigates a little-known trio of immigrant Italian anarchists in America: Arturo Giovannitti, Francesca Vinciguerra and Emanuel Carnevali. Through an analysis of poetry, experimental theatre, essays, speeches, economic writings, manifestos, magazines and archival documents, their contributions to modernism are theorised as a twinned labour of social action and revolutionary literary craft. Yet, this concept also shares a reciprocal arrangement with the economic activism that Pound took up in support of Italian fascism. In the case of all four writers, the historical influence of anarchism manifests as a struggle of labour and literature coupled together, pressing advocacy into the centre of their modernist aesthetics, while protest itself becomes staged as an aesthetic practice. This modernism is assessed here as a field of artisan activism indebted to a spectrum of nineteenth century anarchist theories.
Type: Thesis
Level: Doctoral
Qualification: PhD
Rights: Copyright © the author. All rights reserved.
Appears in Collections:Leicester Theses
Theses, Dept. of English

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