Theoretical accounts of modern American poetry often regard literary texts as theexpression of a subjectivity irremediably fractured by the dividing practices ofpower. In Changing Subjects, Srikanth Reddy seeks to redress our critical biastoward a fatalistic poetics of rupture and fragmentation by foregrounding a fluenttradition of writers from Walt Whitman to John Ashbery who explore digression,rather than disjunction, as a rhetorical strategy for the making of modernpoetry.Mapping the ramifying topography of literary digression, Changing Subjectsoffers a wide-ranging anatomy of ",the excursus", within twentieth-century Americanpoetics. Moving from aesthetics to the archive to narratology to figures ofidentity, Reddy considers various spheres in which American writers revisit andrevise our models of purposeful discourse by cultivating a poetics of digression inmodern literature. In new readings of authors such as Wallace Stevens, MarianneMoore, Frank O'Hara, and Lyn Hejinian, this study proposes that ",changing thesubject", offers a digressive method for negotiating the vexing complexities of art,knowledge, history, and subjectivity under the curious conditions of modernity. Thebook concludes with a survey of ",Elliptical", strategies employed by a new generationof poets, writing in the wake of John Ashbery's aleatory craft, who seek to extendthe digressive project of American poetry into the twenty-first century.
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