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Hyungjung Kim

My dissertation project, Gesturing Listening: Queer Sensescapes, Or Relational Poetics in Modern and Contemporary Anglophone North America, considers the ways in which modern and contemporary women poets and artists configure listening as a foremost concept and practice in envisioning different modes of relations and sociabilities. Poets have long been considered as the seer and speaker of the world. The Latin word vātēs, “[a] poet or bard, … one who is divinely inspired” (OED), designates both the poet and prophet, and in this lineage, Plato names the poets “the prophets of the Muses.” For Ralph Waldo Emerson, “[t]he poet is the sayer, the namer, … He is a sovereign, and stands on the centre,” and it is William Wordsworth who writes that “He[the poet] is a man speaking to men.” This dissertation attempts to extend and modify these statements by considering poetry as a site for collaborative modes of listening, and in doing so, revise the presence of a speaking “man” and/or a singular voice assumed in poetry, especially in lyric poems, by demonstrating how poetry listens and becomes a site for collaborative imagining and thinking. Shifting the focus on visuality in “experimental,” using the word in its broadest sense, writing by both modern and contemporary poets, I propose listening as a powerful sensory mode that helps us to reshape our sense of belonging and imagine new forms of communities. Furthermore, in suggesting listening as a relational praxis, this project critiques the visual paradigm that has dominated Western thought by revealing how multisensorial listening, which engages other nondiscursive sensory modes, inflects the visual. Drawing on some of the contemporary thinkers who raise critical awareness of the possibilities in turning towards listening as a mode of being in the world, I read works by women poets, visual artists, and filmmakers to argue for the sociopolitical vitality of listening and the shared space it creates.