Joyce Mansour's poetics: A discourse of plurality by a second-generation surrealist poet
AuthorBachmann, Dominique Groslier
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractInterest in Joyce Mansour has centered mostly on the ambiguity and the lack of "subjective identity" in her poetic works. This dissertation proposes to investigate that notion and demonstrates that Mansour's discourse is that of a woman poet's assertive, complex, and universal voice in the realm of post-surrealism. Chapter 1 introduces Mansour's poetic corpus, and provides the theoretical approach of our study in view of various critics' interpretations of Joyce Mansour's lack of "subjective identity," as well as other recent, more positive readings of her literary production. Chapter 2 provides pertinent information about the surrealist movement and its founder, Andre Breton. It also considers the role of women and their artistic contribution to the movement. Chapter 3 expounds on the uniqueness of Mansour's assertive voice via the technique of poetic-collage, and highlights the function of eroticism as a liberating force. Georges Bataille's study of Eroticism in literature and surrealism contributes to our study. This chapter also recognizes Mansour's use of Egyptian myths as one of the pillar of her narrative structure. It will show that the poet favors a language of self-regeneration in which the dichotomies between light versus dark, and life versus death are underscored. Chapter 4 explores the role of archetypal images in Mansour's poetry. While the Mother archetypal images demonstrate the universality of her poetry, the Jungian concept of a collective unconscious further clarifies Mansour's poetic discourse. An analysis of archetypes in women literature contributes to the identification of other archetypes, (The Devil, God, and Aphrodite) present in Mansour's discourse. Chapter 5 acknowledges Mansour's pronominal gender play. Monique Wittig's approach on gender theories and our textual concordances of Mansour's poems will provide the underlying theory for discussion. The conclusion supports the notion that Mansour's discourse of plurality is that of a woman who, fearful of humanity's inevitable fate, confronted death through a literary exuberance that has become her identity and personal signature. Our conclusion reveals the existence of two texts that are not part of Mansour's published collection. These texts contribute to a better understanding of Mansour's literary contribution.
Degree ProgramGraduate College
French and Italian