(Generic Pronoun) Creates: Anarchism, Authorship, Experiment
Spinosa, Danielle Marie
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My work develops a postanarchist literary theory that repositions the reading and writing of experimental texts as activist practice. Following the most recent trends in anarchist theory and political philosophy, postanarchist literary theory merges the primary concerns of classical anarchism with shifts in the conceptions of power and the State born out of poststructuralism. Focusing specifically on the ways that the experimental text complicates the traditional relationship between author and reader, my project emphasizes how these experimental texts make manifest the role of language in a radical conception of the common. The concept of language as a part of the common is one shared, implicitly, by all the poets in my project, in some form or another, and to account for both the aesthetic and political anarchism of their experimental approach to authorship and readership, my dissertation takes on an experimental form. As both an insurrectionary tactic and a means of navigating the potential limitations of a more traditional dissertation form, my project was first produced as a series of short single-author chapters linked through hypertext, and these were distributed via an open-access blog that invited reader contribution. My project sees a theory of alternative and experimentation in action in experimental poetic texts that are concerned with an anarchist activist practice on the level of the disruption of the author-function. We can see the intersection of postanarchism and poetry in the way John Cage reappropriates source texts in “62 Mesostics re Merce Cunningham” (1973), or the way Jackson Mac Low writes to and rewrites Gertrude Stein in The Stein Poems (2003). This intersection is represented differently in Denise Levertov’s call for reader responsibility in The Jacob’s Ladder (1961), or in Robert Duncan’s call for reader community in his Passages sequence (in Bending the Bow  and Ground Work [1984,1987]). It becomes radically feminist in the experiments with authorship seen in the revisionist appropriations of Susan Howe (Eikon Basilike, 1993), the indeterminacy of Erin Mouré (Pillage Laud, 1999), the racialized Language work of Harryette Mullen (Sleeping with the Dictionary, 2002), and communal politics of Juliana Spahr (Response, 2000).