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Raw Sensibilities: Elizabeth Bishop and the Philosophy of Beatitude

Titel Englisch Raw Sensibilities: Elizabeth Bishop and the Philosophy of Beatitude
Gesuchsteller/in Austenfeld Thomas
Nummer 143301
Förderungsinstrument Projektförderung (Abt. I-III)
Forschungseinrichtung Département d'anglais et de slavistique Université de Fribourg
Hochschule Universität Freiburg - FR
Hauptdisziplin Schwerpunkt Germanistik und Anglistik
Beginn/Ende 01.10.2012 - 30.09.2015
Bewilligter Betrag 165'085.00
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Keywords (5)

Confessional & Beat poetry ; Elizabeth Bishop (author); American Poetry; Philosophical approaches to poetry

Lay Summary (Englisch)

Lead
Lay summary

Elizabeth Bishop (1911-1979) may well have reached the pinnacle of her fame in our age.  In her lifetime, she was eclipsed by Robert Lowell, who dominated the American poetry scene of the 1960s and 1970s with his work and his personality.  If one asks American poets today, however, whom they are reading for inspiration, the answer will almost always include "Elizabeth Bishop." 

Scholarship on Bishop, however, has remained peculiarly limited in focusing either on close textual studies (as if she were a 20th-century version of Emily Dickinson) or foregrounding biography as an explanatory parameter.  In this way, early abandonment, lonely upbringing, alcoholism or sexual orientation seem to be avenues towards understanding her work in both poetry and fiction.

The project entitled “Raw Sensibilities: Elizabeth Bishop and the Philosophy of Beatitude” will result in a new identification and understanding of Elizabeth Bishop’s poetic oeuvre and her place within American literary history by comparing her to poets of the Beat Generation with whom she has never been grouped before. We intend to highlight and analyze in detail the various aspects of Bishop’s work connect her to selected poets of the Beat movement, from Jack Kerouac to Gregory Corso and Gary Snyder. The recognition of these common themes and concerns will allow us to challenge the false inevitability of Bishop’s self-restrained voice and containment.  

Generally included under the umbrella term of “Beat,” poets such as Frank O’Hara and Gary Snyder were Bishop's contemporaries and help construct a literary platform where we can place and identify Elizabeth Bishop’s poetic voice. Though Elizabeth Bishop remains separated from Beat poets historically and socially—i.e. they were not directly part of her literary circle—our approach in this comparative study is strictly philosophical in relying mostly on the history of ideas instead of sociological history. We intend to identify the major aspects of Beat philosophy and apply them to Bishop’s work not only to highlight her uniqueness but to break with literary tradition and to redefine her recognized position in American poetry. The philosophy of Beatitude—descending directly from the poetic vision of Beat poets—refers to a specific attitude and perception of the world as well as to a particular kind of relationship between the world and the self. The paradox of being “beat” and “beatific” at the same time is something that applies surprisingly not only to Bishop’s artistic work but also to her personal life. Seeking beatitude is often a reaction one can have in the face of tragedy, loss or pain, and it serves especially to protect oneself from the outside world—paradoxically—by embracing it.

As this project seeks to rewrite American literary history by expanding the ways in which Elizabeth Bishop is connected to its various subcategories, it will challenge existing assumptions about her poetic motivations and enlarge the frame of references within which we read this particular mid-century poet.

Direktlink auf Lay Summary Letzte Aktualisierung: 21.02.2013

Verantw. Gesuchsteller/in und weitere Gesuchstellende

Mitarbeitende

Publikationen

Publikation
“’The Vanishing American’: Remembering Weldon Kees’s Short Fiction"
(2015), “’The Vanishing American’: Remembering Weldon Kees’s Short Fiction", 145-159.
“Review: The Cambridge Companion to Elizabeth Bishop.”
(2014), “Review: The Cambridge Companion to Elizabeth Bishop.”, in Elizabeth Bishop Bulletin , 20(1), na-na.
Cinq voix romandes pour cinq poètes américains
(2012), Cinq voix romandes pour cinq poètes américains, in La Page Blanche , 46, na-na.

Zusammenarbeit

Gruppe / Person Land
Formen der Zusammenarbeit
Vassar College Special Collections Library Vereinigte Staaten von Amerika (Nordamerika)
- Forschungsinfrastrukturen
Prof. Eric Carl Link, U. of Memphis, Tennessee Vereinigte Staaten von Amerika (Nordamerika)
- vertiefter/weiterführender Austausch von Ansätzen, Methoden oder Resultaten
Prof. Philip Schweighauser, Basel Schweiz (Europa)
- vertiefter/weiterführender Austausch von Ansätzen, Methoden oder Resultaten
Prof. Thomas Travisano, Hartwick College, Oneonta, NY, United States Vereinigte Staaten von Amerika (Nordamerika)
- vertiefter/weiterführender Austausch von Ansätzen, Methoden oder Resultaten

Wissenschaftliche Veranstaltungen

Aktiver Beitrag

Titel Art des Beitrags Titel des Artikels oder Beitrages Datum Ort Beteiligte Personen
American Literature Association (ALA) Conference Vortrag im Rahmen einer Tagung A Movie of Death: The Horror of Weldon Kees 25.05.2014 Washington, D.C. , Vereinigte Staaten von Amerika Madhour Ola; Austenfeld Thomas;
CUSO Conference: Feminism and Postfeminism. Vortrag im Rahmen einer Tagung “Wild Femininity in the Poetry of Elizabeth Bishop.” 20.03.2014 Lausanne , Schweiz Madhour Ola;
American Literature Association (ALA) Conference Vortrag im Rahmen einer Tagung “Constructing Madness: Bishop and the Power of Poe’s Curiosity.” 23.05.2013 Boston, MA , Vereinigte Staaten von Amerika Madhour Ola; Austenfeld Thomas;


Verbundene Projekte

Nummer Titel Start Förderungsinstrument
130139 Illusionism in the "Riddling" School of American Poetry 01.05.2010 Projektförderung (Abt. I-III)
167811 Beyond the Alps: Robert Lowell in Europe. The Centennial Conference 01.03.2017 Wissenschaftliche Tagungen

Abstract

The project entitled “Raw Sensibilities: Elizabeth Bishop and the Philosophy of Beatitude” will result in a new identification and understanding of Elizabeth Bishop’s poetic oeuvre and her place within American literary history by comparing her to poets of the Beat Generation with whom she has never been grouped before. We intend to highlight and analyze in detail the various aspects of Bishop’s work which bind her to the notion of "raw poetry" (R. Lowell) and thus connect her to selected poets of the Beat movement, from Jack Kerouac to Gregory Corso and Gary Snyder. The recognition of these common themes and concerns will allow us to challenge the false inevitability of Bishop’s self-restrained voice and containment as well as to put into question her common affiliation to "cooked poetry" through the already well-studied influences of Marianne Moore and Robert Lowell. The Beat Generation includes most notably Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and Gregory Corso, though our project aims to expand this literary cluster by including other poets who professed a poetry of rawness, nakedness and open-mindedness from both coasts of the United States. Generally included under the umbrella term of “Beat,” poets such as Frank O’Hara and Gary Snyder were Bishop's contemporaries and help construct a literary platform where we can place and identify Elizabeth Bishop’s poetic voice. Though Elizabeth Bishop remains separated from Beat poets historically and socially-i.e. they were not directly part of her literary circle-our approach in this comparative study is strictly philosophical in relying mostly on the history of ideas instead of sociological history. We intend to identify the major aspects of Beat philosophy and apply them to Bishop’s work not only to highlight her uniqueness but to break with literary tradition and to redefine her recognized position in American poetry. The philosophy of Beatitude-descending directly from the poetic vision of Beat poets-refers to a specific attitude and perception of the world as well as to a particular kind of relationship between the world and the self. The paradox of being “beat” and “beatific” at the same time is something that applies surprisingly not only to Bishop’s artistic work but also to her personal life. Seeking beatitude is often a reaction one can have in the face of tragedy, loss or pain, and it serves especially to protect oneself from the outside world-paradoxically-by embracing it. This project will expand and enhance the critical discussion of Bishop’s affiliation to the philosophy of Beatitude in four different ways. It will focus on four poetic qualities which are vital to the understanding of raw poetry and the vision of Beat poets in which we aim to situate Bishop. First, it will draw attention to the culture of spontaneity by identifying and explaining Bishop’s unique understanding of spontaneity and its relation to craft, freedom and ethics. We will do so by establishing a link between her and Jack Kerouac, one of the leading American poets to recognize spontaneity as the truest form of art. Second, we will turn to the notion of “counter-confessional” which aims to oppose Bishop to the traditional idea of confessional poetry (Snodgrass, Lowell, and Plath) and link her instead to the avant-garde sensibilities of Frank O’Hara and Gregory Corso, both of whom shared Bishop’s aversion for the confessional and refused to transform poetry into a place of cathartic release. Third, we will investigate Bishop’s fascination with madness and compare it to Allen Ginsberg’s understanding of madness as essentially holy and uplifting. Fourth and last, this project will identify and interpret Bishop’s interest in the notion of the sublime by comparing her to poet Gary Snyder whose primary concern in the sublime is expressed in forms of exile and otherness. None of these themes-spontaneity, counter-confessional, madness, sublime-have ever been analyzed in Bishop’s work from the standpoint of the Beat Generation’s wisdom. The project will result in a book authored by Ola Madhour, principal investigator. We propose as preliminary title Raw Sensibilities: Elizabeth Bishop and the Philosophy of Beatitude (expected length: around 300 pages). The intended employment of a doctoral student, Ms Madhour, will ensure that the work here outlined is performed within the requested period of support. Conference and article submissions, prepared jointly by Ms Madhour and myself, will serve as a first venue in publicizing our findings.
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