Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



Writing Time critically examines the simultaneous emergence of modernist poetry and modern physics, arguing that the physical reconfiguration of concepts of time and space recasts the temporality and spatiality of the modern poetic line. Reading Marianne Moore, Elizabeth Bishop, Wallace Stevens, and Jorge Luis Borges’s ultraísmo manifestos as well as ultraist poetry, I argue there is a direct relationship between the emergence of modern physics and that of modernist literature. My dissertation proposes a more unified theory of the modern lyric poem than what currently exists, centered around the temporal experience within which a speaker (and, by extension, a reader) exists. Thus I develop a poetics of temporality, and a reading practice that can support this attention to time. To elaborate the ways in which a new understanding of temporality, encouraged and corroborated by scientific paradigms such as relativity theory and quantum physics, is central to the modern(ist) lyric project, I examine the ways in which the prosody of twentieth-century literature is shaped by temporal relativism. I argue that the time-influenced poetics of the writers and works I here take up are constitutive of the modern lyric genre, offering a connective thread with which to unite current differing and conflicting lyric theories. I turn to the twentieth century, during the period of literary modernism contemporaneous with the shift from classical to modern physics, in order to read both evolutions (of literature and art, of science) together and offer a detailed account of the temporality of the modern lyric and that genre’s rise to prominence, one that is inextricable from changing conceptions of space and time dominating the period’s science-influenced culture. By focusing on a varied set of formal approaches, I broaden and deepen critical understandings of the ways that the modern lyric came to be, as well as of the ways in which such broad-scale generic developments should be understood as an interdisciplinary process.



Committee Chair

Kronick, Joseph



Available for download on Friday, March 05, 2027