Event—Scholarly Seminars

Jack Kerkering, Loyola University Chicago

The Awakening as Poetic Theory, Jack Kerkering

Existing scholarship has examined the lines of influence linking Kate Chopin’s The Awakening with the poems it directly quotes (A. C. Swinburne’s “A Cameo”) or indirectly alludes to (Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself” and “Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking”), but such scholarship has yet to explore the idea that in referencing these poems, The Awakening is in fact participating in a broader contemporary conversation about poetic theory. In this paper I will propose that by putting its exploration of Edna Pontellier’s desire in conversation with these poems by Swinburne and Whitman, Chopin’s novel invites us to understand desire as exerting intense pressures upon representation itself, pressures that signal an engagement with problems of poetics.