Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Comparative Literature

Document Type



This dissertation seeks to create a literary dialogue among the Italian poet Giuseppe Ungaretti, the African American author Langston Hughes, and the Quebecois writer Antonio D’Alfonso. Giuseppe Ungaretti and Langston Hughes were more or less contemporaries. Ungaretti was born in 1888 and Hughes in 1902, and both were active in modernist movements that shaped the literary history of their own countries. D’Alfonso was born in Canada about half a center after Ungaretti and Hughes. Besides significant generational differences, these three authors also underwent personal and intellectual experiences that shaped their writing in seemingly incomparable ways. While a traditional comparative approach to them would set out by acknowledging what they have in common and how they diverge, this dissertation project will identify where and how their lives and writings intersect by using a reading construct called literary dispositif. Briefly put, this research offers a reshaping of Foucault’s allusive dispositif and defines literary dispositif as the simultaneous assembling of lines of inquiry that yields to underlining the implicit communicability existing among various literary traditions, which can be compared beyond ordinary categories of similarity and difference.

By using notions such as diaspora, blues, and cosmopolitanism as the three main lines of inquiry, the literary dispositif developed here shows that the works of Ungaretti, Hughes, and D’Alfonso represent a literary constellation. The objectives of this study are the following: outline a new theoretical perspective by creating a comparative paradigm to understand the cultural interconnectedness already imbedded in literary artifacts; demonstrate how these paradigms reflect the kind of interrelated worlds in which Giuseppe Ungaretti, Langston Hughes, and Antonio D’Alfonso lived; further the scholarship on these three authors by offering a novel critical assessment of their poetry, travelogues, and political and critical writing. Giuseppe Ungaretti is seen as a blues poet, for, especially his earlier verse responds to the personal turmoil of the author in a manner that resonates with the literary blues, and the writing of Langston Hughes and Antonio D’Alfonso are interpreted beyond their respective ethnicities, categories that have been the conventional focus in understanding their works.



Committee Chair

Boelhower, William Q.