Skip to main content

Vertiginous Space: Poetics of Disorientation in Charles Olson, Susan Howe, and Steve McCaffery

Resource type
Thesis type
(Thesis) Ph.D.
Date created
This dissertation is a critical study of how representations of space in selected post-war North American avant-garde poetry produce a poetics of disorientation. Reading space as a characteristic of postmodern experience and a medium of subjectivity in the globalizing stage of late capitalism, this study analyzes spatial poetry and the theory of the spatial turn as forms of knowledge that disclose the changing perceived spatiality of the globe and of the subject. The spatial turn to the postmodern supplies an analytic frame through which to trace a reemphasis of space in particular avant-garde poetics, including the work of Charles Olson, Susan Howe and Steve McCaffery. Engaging with the socio-cultural, geographic, political and psychological effects of spatial poetics as interventions in social space, this study investigates an aesthetic that alternates dialectically between a sense of spatial disorientation and a process of cognitive mapping. These representations track the development of a doubly decentered spatial subject, displaced in Marxist-geographical terms with respect to the space of the planet, and displaced in psychoanalytic terms with respect to the subject’s own intention, meaning, and self-coherence.
Copyright statement
Copyright is held by the author.
The author has not granted permission for the file to be printed nor for the text to be copied and pasted. If you would like a printable copy of this thesis, please contact
Scholarly level
Supervisor or Senior Supervisor
Thesis advisor: Derksen, Jeff
Member of collection
Download file Size
etd7536_JStarnes.pdf 6.38 MB

Views & downloads - as of June 2023

Views: 20
Downloads: 0