Sarah Dowling

Andrew W. Mellon Graduate Fellow in the Humanities

20112012 Forum on Adaptations

Sarah Dowling



Remote Intimacies: Multilingualism in Contemporary Poetry

My dissertation argues that contemporary multilingual poems use languages other than English to explore attachments to distant persons, times, and spaces. I trace a constellation of recently published works from throughout the Americas, examining their nostalgia for vanished writing systems, murdered slaves, dead languages, wartime childhoods, and bitter enemies. Combining attention to the formal structures of individual texts with a theoretical approach informed by recent work in queer theory, I argue that multilingual techniques index alternative modes of intimacy that challenge mainstream formations such as the couple, the family, nation, and language. Avant-garde poetry is infrequently considered in other fields, but the unusual attachments described in these poems constitute a uniquely rich resource for scholarship in sexuality studies on orientation and nostalgia.