Lyric Histories: On the Appearance of Time in Twentieth Century Poetry
Phillis, Jen H.
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My dissertation is shaped by literary criticism’s renewed attention to the lyric poem in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. While the novel form seems incapable of capturing a world in which the economy accelerates and expands every moment, the temporality of the lyric poem is perfectly suited to the milieu of the Great Recession and its aftermath. Lyric Histories directly addresses the temporal difference between narrative and lyric, tracing the appearance of narrative, in the form of primary historical documents, in poetry throughout the twentieth century. These poems containing history are animated by the foundational generic tension between lyric and narrative. The collision of lyric and history alters the lyric form; how each poet manages the aesthetic reverberations of this generic conflict has clear political corollaries. The nexus of aesthetics and politics available in these poems offers a standpoint from which we might see the history of twentieth-century economics and politics more clearly.