Date of Award




Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Department of English

Content Description

1 online resource (iii, 85 pages)

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Eric Keenaghan

Committee Members

Erica Fretwell


Mind and body in literature, Place (Philosophy) in literature, Setting (Literature), Communities in literature, American poetry

Subject Categories

English Language and Literature


Williams Carlos Williams is a significant figure in modernist poetry. Since his poetryreflects his interest in the mind, as well as the nature of America, examining it enables readers to understand significant concepts of thought and American existence, and the shifting realities of American life during this time. For Williams, understanding these American ideals is best navigated through a largely physical and visual experience. For Williams, locale is not primarily defined through geography, but instead through the understanding and expression of the perceptions and experiences “common man” at a particular site. Man's surroundings are inherently connected to his thoughts, thus developing an explicit connection between body and mind. Whether natural, man-made, or a fusion of the two, the space one employs cannot be separated from one's thoughts and actions. I explore these foundational elements of Williams’ poetics by examining three key volumes of Williams’ poetry-- Spring and All (1923), The Wedge (1944), and Paterson (1958). Each of the volumes depicts the focus Williams has on physicality and visuality in order to explore the relationship between locale, body, and mind. Yet, each volume does so in a slightly different manner, largely because Wiliams is reflecting upon the different realities of distinct local experiences. The rapid changes experienced by Americans during these years is reflected through the poems’ different focuses on the local and how each shift influences thought; yet, the facts that realities of any local environment is experienced physically and visually, and that those experiences are inherently connected to one’s thought, are constant and essential to truly understanding the scope of Williams’ work.