The Unheimlich Self in Modernity: Recreating meaning through poetry

Jill M. O'Mahony

    Research output: Types of ThesisDoctoral Thesis


    This thesis seeks to explore the sociological aspects of poetry – in terms of both reading and writing it. Research into the impact of contemporary postcolonial poetry on society has remained a topic which, to date, has been under-examined within sociology proper. As a result, poetry continues to be a topic which has, for the most part, been restricted to studies within the discipline of English literature, or in some cases the interdisciplinary arena of cultural studies. This thesis intends to offer an argument which will show poetry worthy of study in sociological terms. Poetry, as language, has a formative effect on communities. This is illustrated within this thesis by a close analysis of postcolonial poetry from Irish and native American cultures. Postcolonial poetry was chosen as the subject for this project because of the particular experiences of the communities this poetry is derived from. How communities and people experience their social worlds is considered to be essential for the creation of any social order. Poetry, it is argued, comes to life in this experiential struggle. This struggle is explored in relation to a broad survey of sociological, anthropological and postcolonial literature through a series of interconnected themes. These themes – permanent liminality, court society, sacra, unheimlich, alibi-for-being, the surplus, and abyss – arise from the debates presented in the theoretical chapters of this thesis, and demonstrate the ways in which poetry, society and the subject interact.
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Boland, Tom, Supervisor
    Publication statusSubmitted - 2013


    • Modernity, poetry


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