Robopoetics: the robot-lyric voice

Woodward, Catherine (2018) Robopoetics: the robot-lyric voice. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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This thesis develops a ‘robopoetics’ for reading and writing lyric poetry. The thesis is both an exploration of the lyric voice/voicing and a cultural study of the robot as icon. The central premises of this robopoetics are these: robots and poems share lyric substance; lyric voicing renders the voicer indeterminate and lyric poems effectively make robots of poets; we can hear lyric voice in the way we hear robot voices; these voices are uncanny.

The thesis first establishes the im/material substance of the robot, its status of both metaphor and ontology as anthropomorphic man-machine and person simulator. Lyric poems share this im/material substance and anthropomorphic function in that they too confirm and construct the human subject. The thesis shows that the ambiguous in/humanness of robots forms the basis of their uncanny vocal effects; it identifies a group of uncanny voice-forms through analysis of robots in popular culture and argues that, because of their material identity and anthropomorphic function, these forms can be heard in lyric poems too. The thesis expounds a view of lyric as ritual voice event and of the lyric subject as a principle of unity whose voicing renders the writing subject indeterminate, so that poems in effect automate the poet. Lyric poetry can be understood as simulation and lyric voicing as ventriloquism, so that the writing subject can neither fully own nor disown the lyric voice. These ideas are demonstrated via analysis of the work of four poets, to which the voice-forms audible in robot voice are applied to explore sounding/silence and absence/presence.

The purpose of this robopoetics is not to discredit the lyric subject nor to dehumanise the writing subject; it is to suggest a modern way of approaching the lyric subject, and to seriously consider the humanity of the writing subject such as it manifests in lyric poetry.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Literature and Creative Writing (former - to 2011)
Depositing User: Users 9280 not found.
Date Deposited: 01 Apr 2019 15:12
Last Modified: 01 Apr 2019 15:12

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