Theses Doctoral

The Objectification of Poetry: Textiles, Maps, Documents, and Margins in the Postwar American Avant-Garde

Arkebauer, Sarah Hannan

My dissertation, “The Objectification of Poetry: Textiles, Maps, Documents, and Margins in the Postwar American Avant-Garde,” charts the ways poets understand and articulate how history works through their study of material objects. I trace how the material contours of these objects inform and inflect habits of reading by constituting a privileged kind of poetic form, building first on their physical attributes before opening into the metaphorical implications and resonances of the objects in literary study. I have termed my readings “objectifications” because they offer an active account of how material objects come to be understood and used, and the political and ethical implications of their various applications. Within and across the chapters, I argue that material objects help readers rethink the relationship between language and the world it seeks to describe. My use of the term “objectification” captures both a process and a result, interrogating objects not as simple tools but as dynamic systems of signification that reveal unstable relations between subjects and objects. My project demonstrates that the avant-garde’s objectification of poetry is an indispensable principle of language: the diverse materialities of textiles, maps, documents, and margins shape these poems’ syntactic structures and internal relations, composing the hidden yet vital conceptual-material latticework upon which their words hang.


  • thumnail for Arkebauer_columbia_0054D_15385.pdf Arkebauer_columbia_0054D_15385.pdf application/pdf 3.14 MB Download File

More About This Work

Academic Units
English and Comparative Literature
Thesis Advisors
Johnson, Eleanor B.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
August 29, 2019