Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of English

Content Description

1 online resource (vi, 256 pages) : illustrations

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Eric Keenaghan

Committee Members

Pierre Joris, Tomas U Noel


Identity Politics, Impersonality, Modern, Poetics, Poetry, Post-Modern, American poetry, Identity politics in literature, Linguistics in literature, Outsider artists, Modernism (Literature), Postmodernism (Literature)

Subject Categories

American Literature | Reading and Language


This dissertation is concerned with how language mediates the relationship between self and other, and in particular, mythopoetic language. The political potential of myth has long been condemned, so much so that the word "myth" is now synonymous with "false." I argue that this is a result of what I term as heroic mythopoesis wherein the relationship between self and other is predicated on a violent separation that reinforces conceptions of identity. In contrast, in what I term as trans-relational mythopoesis this relationship is contingent on an embodied exposure between self and other that reciprocally translates and transforms conceptions of identity. In Trans-Relational Poetics and Outsider American Modernist and Post-Modernist Poetry, I argue the American outsider poets Jaime de Angulo (1887-1950), Jack Spicer (1925-1965), Stephen Jonas (1920?-1970) and Hannah Weiner (1928-1997) were primarily concerned with the linguistic relationship between self and other. Each poet drew on embodiment and trans-relational mythopoesis to transform this relationship and, by extension, the individual as well as social and political realms. Their distinct poetics translate strategies of orality into text and invite the reader to have trans-relational experiences with language and other(s). Moreover, their poetics facilitate a reflection upon, or an experience of, the inexplicable other, i.e., ineffability (through silence, orgasm, humming or laughter) that gives way to an experience of impersonality--a rupture, or near complete, or complete loss of one's conceptions of identity. Trans-relational poetics are political because if the reader utilizes its ethos in daily relationships with others, society will be transformed to be less violent, more inclusive and based in mutual respect for freedom. Because each poet was considered to be a cultural outsider as a consequence of his or her nationality, ethnicity, sexuality, or disability, each was concerned with destabilizing identity as well as identity politics. Beginning with the modernist poetics of the ethnolinguist Jaime de Angulo, I trace how the complexity of identity politics is further thought through and enacted by American outsider post-modernist poets to be one of direct embodiment.