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Women, War, and Possible New Worlds: Utopia in H.D.’s Poetry

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posted on 22.05.2017, 11:11 by Muna Abdulkadhim Nima Al-Abboodi
This thesis examines H.D.’s treatment of utopia, offering a new perspective both on H.D. studies and studies of utopia, which typically focus on prose. The thesis traces the chronological development of H.D.’s utopian poetry, starting with her early years of experimental Imagism in 1914 and ending with her epics in 1960. My study aims to diversify existing critical approaches to H.D. which, according to many feminist critics, are limited in their treatment of her poetry. Susan Gubar states that the “critical establishment” reads H.D.’s poetry “only one way, from the monolithic perspective of the twentieth-century trinity of imagism, psychoanalysis, and modernism” (20). My work challenges established readings of H.D.’s poetry through a distinctly utopian vision. Likewise, this thesis diversifies studies of utopia, which typically focus on prose, by analysing poetry. I provide a new approach to H.D. by reading her poetry in relation to theories of utopia offered by Michel Foucault, Zygmunt Bauman and Ernst Bloch. I argue that looking at utopia in H.D.’s work is fundamental to an understanding of her as a female poet who resists patriarchy. I contend that in her poetry H.D. creates a feminist utopia as an antidote to the dystopia of war. Her poems envision alternative spaces that counter the war-shattered world. In those “other spaces,” to use Foucault’s expression, H.D.’s women transcend the limits of their prescribed social role or tarnished historical reputation to become leaders, saviours, and world-shapers.



Morley, Catherine

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Department of English

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University of Leicester

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