The field of possibilities: A semiotic conception of the structure of avant-garde poetry
MetadataShow full item record
This study is a semiotic attempt to suppose a model structure of avant-garde poetry, which is often thought to be untotalizable and hence non-structural. The introductory chapter explains avant-garde poetry to be non-mimetic but representational, and characterizes it as a field of possibilities. I suppose the structure of avant-garde poetry to be a multi-leveled system, whose totality is posited at the level of the compositional principle and produced by the interpreter's mediation. The second chapter defends the concept of structure from Jacque Derrida's deconstruction, and prescribes its use as explicative tool without ontological value. Charles S. Peirce's theory of sign and perception provides the critical tool for pointing out Derrida's misconceptions regarding the sign and the structure. Inspired by Umberto Eco's notion of encyclopedia , the third chapter treats the open and dynamic mechanism of the code, which explains the semantic effect of materiality (perceptual meaning) and the innovativeness of avant-garde poetry in terms of overcoding. Based upon Eco's textual semiotics, the structure of avant-garde poetry is elaborated in two sub-modes being compared with that of traditional poetry. It is also characterized as producing no possible world , which relies on the coherent, mimetic narrative. The fourth chapter places the boundary of avant-garde poetry by distinguishing it from what I term pseudo-avant-garde poetry. William C. Williams is discussed in connection with his mimetic tendency hidden under the avant-garde appearance. The fifth chapter discusses works by John Ashbery, Gertrude Stein, and some Language Poets , as examples of avant-garde poetry. The first two belong to the discursive mode, while the rest to the non-discursive mode. I conclude the study reaffirming the representational and structured status of avant-garde poetry against the thesis of non-representational art.