Social Texts and Poetic Texts

Rachel Blau DuPlessis

in The Oxford Handbook of Modern and Contemporary American Poetry

Published in print January 2012 | ISBN: 9780195398779
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 Social Texts and Poetic Texts

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  • Literature
  • Literary Studies (20th Century onwards)
  • Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)


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This article explores critical intersections between cultural studies and the poetic text. In thinking about a poetic text, one cannot be limited to the social information about it, to the social information it appears to present, or to the surface attitudes it seems to convey. A critic must focus on articulating the complex relationships that may be constructed among statement and mode. So the problem of interpretation becomes one of articulating the dynamic variables, making adequate readings of social texts, rhetorics, and poetics; the problem is actually riding those waves and pulses of dialectical flux. The segregation of poetry from the social may be attributable to poetry's formalist and stylized condensations, constituting more acute barriers to a relatively innocent reader than parallel conventions in novels (or even films), which may well be consumed almost as if “the real” itself.

Keywords: poetic texts; social information; interpretation; social texts; rhetorics; poetics

Article.  8307 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Literary Studies (20th Century onwards) ; Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)

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