Date of Award




Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Department of English

Content Description

1 online resource (iii, 71 pages)

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Eric Keenaghan

Committee Members

Helen R Elam


Poetics, Poets, American, Thought and thinking

Subject Categories

Arts and Humanities | English Language and Literature | Modern Literature


Thinking has long been a topic of interest in both philosophy and poetry but the experience of it, the phenomenological reality of thinking, has remained understudied. Utilizing Martin Heidegger’s writings on thinking and poetry, as well as various literary scholars, this thesis argues that poetry may be read as revealing the phenomenality of thought, the what-is-it-like of thinking. Through an application of Heidegger’s concept of a thinker’s “fundamental experience” and close readings of the poetry and prose writings of George Oppen, Wallace Stevens, and John Ashbery, I argue that each poet uses different lenses in his work to reveal different aspects of thinking and its phenomenality. For Oppen, the lens is clarity; for Stevens, the imagination; and for Ashbery, it is experience. I argue that although each poet illuminates different aspects of the mystery of thought, ultimately the purpose of such work is not thinking itself, but the exploration of these different concepts and how they bear upon and reveal what the process of thinking is like.