|dc.description.abstract||This thesis develops an iterative conceptual framework, derived from poststructuralist and translation theory, to demonstrate how diverse aspects of the work of poet and classicist Anne Carson can be understood as part of a common iterative poetics. I show how Carson’s iterative strategies connect the erring of translation and the incompleteness and erring of language to the continuous need to renegotiate cultural questions around sexuality, textuality, and the authority of historical accounts. Identifying these strategies also allows me to locate Carson, a writer whose work has often seemed to resist classification, within a broader iterative turn in contemporary poetry.
In chapter 1, I discuss a selection of Carson’s poems from Men in the Off Hours and Plainwater that employ iterative strategies of citation, repetition, recontextualisation, and multiple drafts. I show how Carson’s repetitions and alterations of pre-existing texts highlight the iterative qualities of language. I also show how these strategies emphasise errant versioning over authoritative interpretations and fixed notions of sexuality, gender, and textual authority. In chapter 2, I show how Carson’s iterative poetics extends to her practice of translation. I demonstrate Carson’s anxiety around imposing fixed translations on ancient texts in Autobiography of Red and If Not, Winter: Fragments of Sappho. I also show how she renegotiates static understandings of ancient and contemporary notions of gender and sexual power. In chapter 3, I extend Carson’s methodology of unease in translating ancient texts to encompass her errant approach in translating a life and in writing history in Nox.
In her poetry and translations, Carson figures errancy and interpretive unease not as faults to be avoided, but rather, as inevitable and integral aspects of literature’s iterative process. This thesis argues for the value of errancy and for the therapeutic usefulness of the ability to continually re-tell, re-describe, and reiterate personal stories and ancient narratives.||