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Date of Award

8-1993

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

English

Supervisor

Lorraine York

Language

English

Abstract

Throughout both her poetry and prose, Adrienne Rich acknowledges "the dynamic between poetry as language and poetry as a kind of action, probing, burning, stripping, placing itself in dialogue with others out beyond the individual self" (Blood. Bread, and Poetry 181). J.L, Austin's speech-act theory provides a means by which to read the linguistic "action" in Rich's poetry. Austin's concept of performative language defines the power of words that "do things," words whose articulation is an act of creation. By combining lesbian and speech-act theory, the linguistic challenges facing a lesbian whose experience has never been expressed in language can also be understood. This theoretical framework highlights many important themes of the "Twenty-One Love Poems," such as silence, music, and writing as living, and also helps to define a specific lesbian poetic aesthetic.

McMaster University Library

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