Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

College of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences, English and Literary Arts

First Advisor

Bin Ramke


Creative writing, Poetry


This dissertation, Valuing, takes its title and inspiration from Allen Grossman’s unorthodox understanding of value in True-Love: Essays on Poetry & Valuing. Grossman sees our most human acts of valuation as transcendent of the orthodoxy it is commonly associated with because it is “held in the mind as prior to philosophy and religion and is indistinguishable from love.” A version of humanism, perhaps, in terms of its rejection of normative structures, Grossman’s valuing, as I see it, is more unorthodox and subversive than traditional humanism because it depicts valuing as a preternatural capacity, as prior to language—the necessary foundation of philosophy and religion. Before we speak, we value and bestow upon others the otherness that sparks relation, love and society.

But after valuing comes language, and with language comes conflict. We rationalize. We lie. We lose connection to the natural phenomena that shape our experience. “Our ties to beings and things are so fragile,” writes Edmond Jabès, “they often break without us noticing,” and this fragility comes about because of language, because of the distance that language inflicts. My dissertation seeks to bridge this distance, to explore valuing as the foundation of human origin and the catalyst for human rights that it is. And yet it has to navigate this distance using the very mode—language— that established it. This is where poetry comes in with its aesthetic agility, its “uncanny learning,” as Grossman describes it. Poetry is the mode of inquiry uniquely capable of exploring these ideas because it manifests the pre-verbal—human origins—and the post-verbal—human rights—what goes without saying. This dissertation seeks to harness this “uncanny learning” in an attempt to value again and to rectify the lapses that separate us from our actions, our objects and ourselves.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. This work may only be accessed by members of the University of Denver community. The work is provided by permission of the author for individual research purposes only and may not be further copied or distributed. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Christopher Kondrich


Received from author

File Format




File Size

98 pgs


Creative writing