Congratulations to our 2013 WAGS Prize Winner Claudia Wack!
Department of Women's and Gender Studies Honors Thesis
Listening Differently: the Feminist Verses of Alice Fulton
Abstract: Contemporary poet Alice Fulton is nothing if not unconventional. Her poems are dense and obtuse: she revels in a decidedly maximalist aesthetic, jam-packing her lines with information and wordplay. She gravitates towards material that most poets don’t normally feature, including exaggeratedly violent imagery and kitschy references to American pop culture. The postmodern bent of Fulton’s poetics sets her apart from the most famous female poets of second wave feminism, who generally employed a straightforward, confessional style. In Listening Differently, I analyze how the unorthodox Fulton, despite diverging form conventional conceptions of the feminist genre, takes up the issue of gender in her poetry. Fulton’s characters understand themselves, and by extension, one another, through the categories of Self and Other. Each character’s physical existence and psychological identity depends on the division of his or her individual “self” from the rest of creation – including other human beings. Fulton’s female characters, however, also experience Self and Other as gendered designations: by virtue of their femininity, they are perceived and treated in American society as the Other, and therefore inferior, sex. Throughout her poetry, Fulton depicts women battling both explicit and insidious forms of cultural degradation, including sexual violence, restrictive gender norms and patronizing male attitudes. Fulton’s unconventional poetics challenge gendered assumptions; she strives to undermine the binary perception of women as inherently opposite and inferior to men. By depicting women’s intelligence and autonomy as well as their suffering, Fulton reasserts their status, not as Others, but equal, deserving Selves.