Fusing an Alloy
Fusing an Alloy
Muriel Rukeyser at the Limits of Poetry/ Documentary
This chapter charts the formation of the documentary poetry tradition in the U.S. through a consideration of Muriel Rukeyser’s The Book of the Dead. It demonstrates how Rukeyser pushed the boundaries of genre and media to imagine modes of expression that resisted traditional notions of liberal subjectivity. Drawing on multiple valences of the term alloy, the chapter argues that Rukeyser imagined documentary writing as a complex fusing of elements that speculates on the ontology of the poem itself. The chapter begins with an account of the historical, definitional, and theoretical concerns that have shaped documentary poetry. The chapter’s subsequent analyses of The Book of the Dead consider the impact of industry on subject formation: demonstrating how Rukeyser experimented with literary and visual genres, as well as poetic tropes and themes, to devise alternate modalities of personhood that interface the human with the materials of history and industry. The chapter concludes by showing how Rukeyser’s plans to adapt The Book of the Dead into a documentary film demonstrate a combination of formal and technical resources that illuminate new principles of composition.
North Carolina Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.
If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.