The Critical Poem: Philosophy and Modern American Poetry

Dissertation, State University of New York at Buffalo (1988)

While some critics deny that poetry has any relationship to philosophy, the so-called "post-structuralists" treat poetry as virtually indistinguishable from philosophy. The Critical Poem attempts to identify the philosophic in modern American poetry by suggesting the ways that our poets have used and abused, sought out or fled from philosophy; its essential thesis is that poetry and philosophy are intimately related not only at the relatively naive level of theme, but also at the more problematic level of rhetoric, where poetic structures often double philosophic analyses. The five chapters of reading are bracketed by an historical introduction and a theoretical conclusion. ;The introduction surveys traditional distinctions between poetry and philosophy, from Plato to Derrida, and systematically explicates the conceptual determinants informing my readings. The three following chapters examine three American poets--Williams, Ashbery, and Michael Palmer. Since Stevens and Williams are often taken as the modern representatives of poetries of "ideas" and "experience," the first reading--"Somehow disturbed at the core: Words and Things in William Carlos Williams"--demonstrates how Williams so scrambles the distinction between idea and experience as to render it ineffectual. ;The second reading--"Phatic noise or emphatic tracings: Ashbery's Three Poems and the one true self"--examines his critique of an unproblematized conception of self-identity. The natural progression from Ashbery's figure of self is traced in the next chapter, "Michael Palmer's Intertextual Imperative," which shows how concerns in contemporary language philosophy and critical theory have emerged as the dominating themes in contemporary American poetry. The fourth reading--"Witnessing Difference"--examines the American prose poem, that form of poetic practice most closely allied with philosophy
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 47,330
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles


Added to PP index

Total views

Recent downloads (6 months)

How can I increase my downloads?


Sorry, there are not enough data points to plot this chart.

My notes

Sign in to use this feature