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Abstract

“Anational Poetics” examines US poetry written by ethnic minorities that articulate alternative modes of collectivity to the nation’s organizing strategies, during a period loosely defined by the official embrace of multiculturalism from the 1970s to the present. Against the dominance of the nation form, but unlike minority counternationalisms, the anational concept provides a way to see how minoritized aesthetic projects can recognize without reproducing the nation as an antagonistic agent privileged to define the terms of recognition and justice. Thus here experimental poetics provides a kind of workshop for an alternative political theory developed within different minority traditions. By foregrounding the forms of interpellation through which the nation addresses minorities, the dissertation considers how poets such as Amiri Baraka, Gloria Anzaldúa, and Myung Mi Kim disengage from these discursive strategies to build coalitions away from the US nation. The dissertation also locates anational possibilities in indigenous forms of kinship such as those elaborated in the poetry of Simon Ortiz and Craig Santos Perez, which rely on spatiotemporal perceptions that disrupt the nation’s space and time. The concluding section considers poetry by Fred Moten and Alexis Pauline Gumbs to chart the social possibilities enacted by communities that distance themselves from the nation’s purview. To make a new space that includes the assemblage of inheritances and possible futures in the face of current circumstances, “Anational Poetics” moves beyond tracking strategies of minoritized resistance to mine archives and aesthetics for strategies that neutralize the nation’s prestige as the locus of collective history.

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