Current Institutional Affiliation
Data Onboarding Manager, Collegis Education

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2014
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
English, Emory University
Poetic Investments: Public Finance and the Fiscal Sociology of Anglophone Poetry Since 1945

During the second half of the twentieth century, poets around the world confronted new challenges to financing their art and livelihood. Public funds became an important source of support for poetry, as well as an important topic in poems of the period. While literary scholars have noticed ways in which poetic texts circulate alongside economic concerns, the most influential work on literary aesthetics assumes that poems achieve a strong degree of aesthetic autonomy from fiscal issues. My dissertation challenges this status quo by historicizing and contextualizing public investment in Anglophone poetry after 1945. By examining transnational circuits of public funding that link the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Jamaica, and Nigeria, I explore the impact of public finance on the Anglophone poetic field in a comparative manner as well as ways in which poetic projects respond to values that underwrite public funding for the arts. My proposed research focuses on consulting archives and individuals in Nigeria and Jamaica, with shorter periods of research in the UK and US. Analyzing the routing of public funds, the poems they enabled, and personal accounts of gatekeepers and poet-beneficiaries will offer insight into how public finance shaped cross-cultural poetic flows and how poets aspired to intervene in cultural imaginaries. Archival records and in-depth interviews with gatekeepers will index and symptomatize fiscal policies and institutional values. Consideration of publication and distribution networks and close analysis of poetic texts will show how public finance impacted poetic production and the extent to which institutional and cultural values correspond to the poems they enabled. Taken together, these considerations will allow me to show how state spending has influenced Anglophone poetry in a comparative manner as well how poems have critiqued and contributed to repertoires of value that bear significantly on fiscal policy and cultural identity.