THE Metamorphic Self: Ekphrastic Epiphanies of Elizabeth Bishop, Frank O’Hara, and H.D.
AuthorWallace, Heidi Elizabeth
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction, presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractIn this dissertation, I study how ekphrasis illuminates ideas of selfhood and time in Hilda Doolittle’s (H.D.) (1886-1961), Frank O’Hara’s (1926-1966), and Elizabeth Bishop’s (1911-1979) fiction and poetry. I examine the porous boundaries between plastic (and sometimes musical) and literary arts, where their differences are in constant play with one another. Through this interplay between mediums arise questions of representation, materiality, and history. H.D., O’Hara, and Bishop, I argue, harness this interplay of difference in order to question notions of the self. H.D. and O’Hara seek to dismantle order and rational understanding through the discord their work compels. Bishop, even if she attempts to rationally organize her experience for a moment, always upends that organization through her vertiginous lenses. I focus on the epiphanic moments within an ekphrastic text in which a dramatic shift occurs in a speaker’s perception of time or conception of the self. I treat epiphany as a secularized concretization of chaotic experience which results in a revelation of how time functions or how the self is constructed. I argue that epiphany destabilizes the conventional understanding of presence and absence. Rationally speaking, an object cannot be both present and absent, but, in the epiphanic moments I discuss, the speaker remains in a state of negative capability, opening the possibility of a simultaneous presence and absence. Ultimately, I show how epiphany functions in an ekphrastic text to destabilize the idea of selfhood.
Degree ProgramGraduate College