Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Abbott, Craig S., 1941-

Degree Name

Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy)

Legacy Department

Department of English


Frost; Robert; 1874-1963; Williams; William Carlos; 1883-1963; Poetry--Authorship; Relativity (Physics) in literature; Poets; American


My dissertation is an investigation of the correspondence between poetry and physics in the early twentieth century—more specifically, how modernist poetry participated in the epistemological shift reflected in relativity theory and quantum mechanics. While there have been studies of modernist poets' knowledge of and allusions to developments in physics, there has been little attention to how their poetry and poetics have embodied the view of space, time, and uncertainty also present in the work of such physicists as Einstein, Bohr, and Heisenberg. I have chosen as representative poets the unequivocal modernist William Carlos Williams and the problematical modernist Robert Frost. My study seeks to explain the formalist experimentation that marks Williams as modernist. Yet it also identifies the modernist impulse in Frost, despite Frost's duplicitous traditionalism. In addition, my project examines the critical reception of the poets' work, investigating the way in which literary criticism itself came to incorporate the epistemological shift evident in the work it sought to explain and evaluate.


Includes bibliographical references (pages [217]-229)


v, 229 pages




Northern Illinois University

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