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American Hybrid Poetics

Gender, Mass Culture, and Form

Amy Moorman Robbins

Publication Year: 2014

 American Hybrid Poetics explores the ways in which hybrid poetics—a playful mixing of disparate formal and aesthetic strategies—have been the driving force in the work of a historically and culturally diverse group of women poets who are part of a robust tradition in contesting the dominant cultural order.  Amy Moorman Robbins examines the ways in which five poets—Gertrude Stein, Laura Mullen, Alice Notley, Harryette Mullen, and Claudia Rankine—use hybridity as an implicitly political strategy to interrupt mainstream American language, literary genres, and visual culture, and expose the ways in which mass culture in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries has had a powerfully standardizing impact on the collective American imagination. By forcing encounters between incompatible traditions—consumer culture with the avant-garde, low culture forms with experimental poetics, prose poetry with linguistic subversiveness—these poets bring together radically competing ideologies and highlight their implications for lived experience. Robbins argues that it is precisely because these poets have mixed forms that their work has gone largely unnoticed by leading members and critics in experimental poetry circles.

Published by: Rutgers University Press

Title Page, Copyright Page, Dedication

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pp. ix-xiv

This book has been a very long time in the making, and many wonderful people have encouraged me along the way. Years ago at the University of Washington I was inspired by the passion and dedication to the field shown by Tom Lockwood, Malcolm Griffith, Ross...

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pp. 1-19

This book is an analysis of the concept of hybrid poetics as it circulates in the current critical discourse surrounding contemporary American poetry and as it informs innovative work by several American women poets in particular. I argue that, far from being new, hybrid aesthetics...

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1. Gertrude Stein’s Blood on the Dining-Room Floor:Hybrid Poetics in Modernist/Mass Culture

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pp. 20-43

In “Reflection on the Atomic Bomb,” one of Gertrude Stein’s last writings, Stein begins as follows: They asked me what I thought of the atomic bomb. I said I had not been able to take any interest in it. I like to read detective and mystery stories, I never get enough of them but whenever one of them is or was about death rays and...

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2. Laura Mullen’s Murmur: Crime Fiction, Cruel Optimism,and a Hybrid Poetics of Affect

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pp. 44-70

If Stein’s bloodless Blood on the Dining-Room Floor turns on the subversive potential but also the palpable absence of lesbian sexuality within patriarchal/capitalist systems of familial and economic control, Laura Mullen’s hybrid novel/poem Murmur (Futurepoem 2007), which nods frequently to...

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3. Alice Notley’s Disobedience: The Postmodern Subject,Paranoia, and a New Poetics of Noir

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pp. 71-99

Perhaps because of the many formal, generic, and thematic crossings within Alice Notley’s large and ever-growing oeuvre, attempts to place her work within any single community of contemporary experimental writing necessarily fail at the same time that such failure precisely identifies...

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4. Harryette Mullen’s Poetics in Prose: A Return tothe Modernist Hybrid

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pp. 100-123

In this chapter I examine the ways in which Harryette Mullen’s prose poetry in two of her collections—S*PeRM**K*T (1992) and Sleeping with the Dictionary (2002)—foregrounds and frustrates white desire for consumption of the black body, a desire that runs deep in American...

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5. Claudia Rankine’s Don’t Let Me Be Lonely: A Lyrical Long Poem in a Post-Language Age

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pp. 124-150

Claudia Rankine’s Don’t Let Me Be Lonely: An American Lyric is a thoroughly revolutionary twenty-first-century hybrid work that expands the limits of the long poem form in order to investigate the status of the politically situated, socially mediated human subject in contemporary American...


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pp. 151-164


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pp. 165-172

About the Author

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E-ISBN-13: 9780813564661
E-ISBN-10: 0813564662
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813564654
Print-ISBN-10: 0813564654

Page Count: 188
Publication Year: 2014

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Cultural fusion in literature.
  • Aesthetics in literature.
  • Poetics.
  • American poetry -- Women authors -- History and criticism.
  • Women and literature -- United States.
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