The Poem, The Museum and Marianne Moore: A Creative Critical Thesis

Mack, Katherine (2021) The Poem, The Museum and Marianne Moore: A Creative Critical Thesis. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

[thumbnail of K Mack LDC PhD Thesis Final copy.pdf]
Download (1MB) | Preview


This critical and creative thesis takes as its starting point the relationship between the poem and the museum—looking at the museum as an actual and as an imaginary institution. If museums are thought to exist as buildings and as collections, then in the imaginative exploration undertaken in this thesis, the museum is also crystallized in moments when an artefact is displayed.

The creative portion of the thesis takes the form of a collection of poems. These poems consider a range of themes about the nature of the exhibited object and its relationship with human life. They examine how the stilled, muted object can be reanimated within the poem, and thereby given voice. I also reverse expectations and explore how human life can, in turn, be silenced, stilled and rendered object-like. Built into the collection is the idea of the poem itself as an exhibited object put on display.

My critical study focuses on the work of the American modernist poet Marianne Moore. It looks at her engagement with the changing museum displays at the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) in New York, which Moore visited regularly throughout her writing career. I argue that Moore’s interest in the AMNH was motivated by her passion for the natural sciences and, specifically, her lifelong interest in Darwinian evolution. Drawing on biographical and archival evidence, researched at The Rosenbach Museum and Library in Philadelphia, the thesis offers close-readings of a selection of Moore’s poems. The first chapter examines Moore’s so-called ‘animiles’ poems of the 1930s, and the second chapter goes on to analyse her extensive revisions of her earlier work. Darwinian evolution is engaged with both as subject matter for Moore’s work, and yet also, crucially, as a poetic principle running throughout. The ways in which the poem has been reinterpreted by Moore as an evolving object, absorbing Darwinian thinking on evolution into its form, will be a central concern.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Literature and Creative Writing (former - to 2011)
Depositing User: Kitty Laine
Date Deposited: 15 Dec 2022 14:58
Last Modified: 15 Dec 2022 14:58

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item