Date of Award
College of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences, English and Literary Arts
Creative writing, Poetry
My dissertation is entitled “My Education.” It is a poetic meditation on the nature of knowledge. The manuscript is a triptych, each section of which corresponds to a common source of knowledge.
The first chapter is a collection of poems entitled As Seen On TV. The poems borrow conceptual metaphors and visual gestures from television programs in order to investigate the values that produced them and norms that are produced by them. The poems are concerned with mimesis: the troubled relationship between art and life. Organized as a day spent in front the television, the book opens with the morning news, and ends with late night reruns and static. These poems are about the passage of time, the female body, and the violence of its rapid obsolescence.
The second chapter, “Boy Friends,” is an alphabetical primer on romance. The alphabet contains the units of literacy, of knowledge. It is an organizational method. The alphabet book is a didactic form; it teaches the order of things. In this work, the speaker lists the men in her life alphabetically, describing her affairs and thwarted love interests, beginning with Adam and ending with Zachary. The twenty-six lineated poems are followed by a prose addendum entitled "Roll Call," in which the speaker tries to list every boy she ever met and explain what has become of him since she knew him. Many of the names from “Boy Friends” recur here, and a sense of narrative develops and acts as a bridge into the final chapter.
The third section, “Confessional Poetry,” is a collection of prose essays modeled after the Roman Catholic Sacrament of Penance. In this work, I confess a sin to correspond to each on the Ten Commandments. This numeric organization (1-10) mirrors the alphabetical organization (A-Z) of “Boyfriends.” This is a work of spiritual accounting. In it, I tally the wrongs I have done to see how it all adds up. Unfortunately I am not very good at math. I do not know the final answer. I do know that each of these stories is an act of contrition.
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Received from author
Gardiner, Christine, "My Education" (2012). Restricted Access ETDs. 38.