The Poetics of Fragmentation: Shared Modernity in Petrarch, Eliot, and Pound

Doctoral Dissertation


Petrarch, a poet who pioneered a lyric subjectivity that would heavily influence subsequent European literature and a scholar who sought to bridge the gap between the ancients and his own generation, has often been called the “first modern man.” In the early 20th century, a group of American and British poets including T.S. Eliot and Ezra Pound began writing what would later be called “Modernist” literature. What serves to link these poets, so distant in time, place, and aesthetics? I argue that a central aspect of their shared modernity lies in a poetics of fragmentation. Relying on close readings of their works, principally the lyric poems of Petrarch’s Rerum vulgarium fragmenta or Canzoniere, Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” and The Waste Land, and Pound’s Hugh Selwyn Mauberley and the Cantos, I describe and analyze a fascination with the literary fragment, which includes their heavy reliance on allusion, their emphasis on repetition and the passage of time, their fascination with personae and masks, and their frequent images of internal rupture and dissolution.


Attribute NameValues
  • etd-12102013-113435

Author Loren K. Higbee
Advisor JoAnn DellaNeva
Contributor Theodore Cachey, Committee Member
Contributor JoAnn DellaNeva, Committee Chair
Contributor Joseph Buttigieg, Committee Member
Degree Level Doctoral Dissertation
Degree Discipline Literature
Degree Name Doctor of Philosophy
Defense Date
  • 2013-11-21

Submission Date 2013-12-10
  • United States of America

  • Eliot

  • Petrarch

  • Pound

  • fragmentation

  • modernity

  • Modernism

  • University of Notre Dame

  • English

Record Visibility Public
Content License
  • All rights reserved

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