Parker, Sarah Louise (2012)
Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.
This thesis addresses the concept of the contemporary muse in the work of six late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century women poets. In my introduction, I detail the history of the muse in literary tradition. I examine the problems that the gendered dynamic of poet/muse presented, by restricting women to a passive, inspiring role. I argue that, due to these problematic aspects, contemporary feminist criticism of the woman poet’s muse has often elided the homoerotic desire and power-play that structures these relationships. To rectify this, I focus on contemporary, living muse figures. I emphasise why these kinds of figures (as opposed to dead, historical or mythological muses) were particularly inspiring to women poets in the late-nineteenth/early-twentieth centuries. I also address the specific ethical dilemmas of claiming a living muse. My four main chapters detail and theorise the dynamics between poets and their contemporary muses: Michael Field and Bernard Berenson; Olive Custance and Lord Alfred Douglas; Amy Lowell and Eleonora Duse/Ada Russell; and H.D. and Bryher. My conclusion draws these individual studies together to emphasise their illuminating similarities, including the increased fluidity between the roles of poet/muse, destabilisation of gender categories, and the presence of a third term that mediates the muse/poet relationship.
|Type of Work:||Ph.D. thesis.|
|School/Faculty:||Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law|
|Department:||Department of English, School of English, Drama and American & Canadian Studies|
|Subjects:||HQ The family. Marriage. Woman|
PN0441 Literary History
PR English literature
|Institution:||University of Birmingham|
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