Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Craig A. Challender, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Chapman Hood Frazier, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Mary Carroll-Hackett, M.F.A.


An exploration of Rukeyser's work is a transformative experience. The reader need not come to see the world through the same lenses that Rukeyser saw it in order to be transformed. That is, one need not agree with Rukeyser that 1) the world is a place of Oneness that embraces all (even the ugliness and evil) that appears to divide it; 2) that observation is given voice by poetry; and 3) that the poet who sees suffering must, out of love, give poetry that speaks for those who cannot speak for themselves. One need only put on Rukeyser's lenses for a time, and to look at the world as she did, "as if" those things were true. Then, even after the lenses are removed, the reader's world is changed. And this is the way Rukeyser would have it: "Reader, she will want to change your life. No, she wants you to change it," wrote her friend Jane Cooper in her foreword to the 1996 re-issue of Rukeyser's The Life of Poetry.(xxvii). Although this thesis looks at a narrow range of Rukeyser's work, for me that work has indeed been life-changing. As more of Rukeyser's poetry and prose is brought back into print, hopefully others will have a similar opportunity to be transformed by her work.



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