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Grant number like: FA-57785-14

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Bonnie Costello
Boston University (Boston, MA 02215-1300)

Fellowships for University Teachers
Research Programs

[Grant products]

$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
9/1/2014 – 8/31/2015

The Plural of Us: Poetry and Community in Auden and Others

My subject is the communal possibilities of lyric in general, and as seen specifically in the many uses W.H. Auden makes of the first person plural. I proceed on two fronts: what sort of genre does the use of "we" produce under the burden of modern history, and how is Auden's case a particularly interesting one in this respect? I examine markers of plural voice in relation to lyric theory and practice, ethics and sociolinguistics. I focus on 1930-1950, when questions of the poet's responsibility to the public were especially urgent. This book studies "we" from its most constricted and intimate to its fully unbounded forms, while at the same time showing the movement and ambiguity within its range. Genre-oriented chapters break the pronoun down and offer theoretical accounts of its use through various examples in modern poetry. Auden case studies follow in each section. Throughout, I am concerned with how "we" absorbs questions of voice in democracy.