Cinematic projections in the poetry of H.D., Marianne Moore, and Adrienne Rich




Barclay, Adèle Véronique

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This dissertation examines the influence of film on the poetry of H.D., Marianne Moore, and Adrienne Rich. It builds on scholarship by Susan McCabe (2005), Lawrence Goldstein (1994) and others, who have traced the way twentieth-century American poets reacted formally to film culture in their writing. My project responds to the call of the editors of the volume of Close Up 1927-1933: Cinema and Modernism for critics to interrogate how authors harnessed the aesthetic and political possibilities opened up by cinema. This study draws from theories of feminist film phenomenology by Vivian Sobchack and Laura U. Marks to analyze the aims and arguments of the texts. The literary works studied include: H.D.’s Sea Garden, “Projector” series, Trilogy, Helen in Egypt, and film essays; Marianne Moore’s animal poems from the 1930s and early 1940s and film essays; and Adrienne Rich’s The Will to Change. This dissertation argues that the poets drew from film to renovate their poetic vision and forms and ply at questions of power, visuality, and bodies. The poems articulate an awareness of the filmic gaze and how it constructs feminine or animal others. Through careful analysis of the poems, this dissertation locates each poet’s particular rapport with film and how it influenced her literary style and prompted her to challenge dominant patriarchal scripts. This dissertation makes several original contributions to twentieth-century Anglo-American poetry scholarship. It sets these three authors alongside one another to reveal how their engagements with film inspired their poetics and politics at various points throughout the twentieth century. The conclusions herein determine how the poets turned to film to construct their poetic projects. The dissertation offers new readings of the work of H.D., Moore and Rich as queer women poets invested in film culture.



H.D., Marianne Moore, Adrienne Rich, poetry, film, cinematic poetry, twentieth-century American poetry, modernism.