Poetics of emptiness: Transformations of East Asian philosophy and poetics in twentieth-century American poetry
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This dissertation explores transformations of East Asian philosophy, poetics, and aesthetics in twentieth-century American poetry. Transpacific texts like those discussed in this dissertation offer an opportunity to expand literary criticism's interpretive frames by requiring reading practices as heterocultural as the texts being read. Each chapter of this dissertation addresses the unique intertextual pathway of specific East Asian configurations of "emptiness" as they are transformed by their integration into American poetics. I explore how Ernest Fenollosa integrates late Meiji Tendai Buddhist reading of emptiness ( kong ) and the classical Chinese concept ( wen , "pattern") to support his poetics of emptiness. I explore the didactic and soteriological function of the "emptiness" in Gary Snyder's poetry and poetics, as well as Wai-lim Yip's "language of emptiness" ( wuyan ) which he argues is capable of "letting the world manifest itself in poetry without 'epistemological elaborations.'" Finally, I presence the ways in which Theresa Hak Kyung Cha's novel/poem Dictée draws upon the textual tradition of Daoist ( neidan , "inner alchemy"). Tracing the impact of these transpacific concepts reveals an important untold story of American poetry and poetics, and it is my hope that this dissertation provides a small chapter in this unfolding history.