Intimate Editing: Toward a Relational Philological Poetics

Thompson, Anne Marie, English - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
McGann, Jerome
Ramazani, Jahan
Levenson, Michael
Teare, Brian

According to the etymology of “philo-logy,” poets—the most ardent lovers of words—ought to be considered first among philologists. However, philology’s reputation as a dusty, pedantic science has seen it relegated to the back shelf of literary studies. “Intimate Editing” reveals a counterintuitive but symbiotic relationship between innovative poetry and philology: if philology engages with words' material incarnations in documents, manuscripts, and books, a philological poetics calls attention to and intervenes in that process. The contemporary, North American women writers I consider in this dissertation—Marta Werner, Jen Bervin, Susan Howe, and M. NourbeSe Philip— revel in an intimate, tactile relationship with documents and archives, constructing unique, cross-genre compositions by cutting, sewing, breaking, and arranging textual matter. “Intimate Editing” thus carves out a space under the broader category of experimental poetics to read these writers as poet-editors who exploit and enlarge the imaginative, relational aspects of philological practices, particularly editing. While my project revises reductive accounts of the motivations behind “innovative” or “experimental” poetic techniques, I also argue that these women push the boundaries of editorial principles and critique the assumptions of institutionally authorized textual scholars, thus modeling alternative modes of textual criticism.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
avant-garde, textual studies, poetry and poetics, Susan Howe, Jen Bervin, NourbeSe Philip, Emily Dickinson, Marta Werner
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