Political activism in North American performative poetryFrom Walt Whitman to Allen Ginsberg

  1. Ortiz Barroso, Elisa
Supervised by:
  1. Eusebio de Lorenzo Gómez Director

Defence university: Universidad Complutense de Madrid

Fecha de defensa: 22 October 2021

  1. Isabel Durán Giménez-Rico Chair
  2. Carmen Méndez García Secretary
  3. Cristina Alsina Rísquez Committee member
  4. Rodrigo Andrés Committee member
  5. Eulalia Piñero Gil Committee member
  1. Estudios Ingleses: Lingüística y Literatura

Type: Thesis


This dissertation has its first prompt in the common scholarly association between the two American poets Walt Whitman and Allen Ginsberg, who vindicated the oral character of poetry as an alternative path for political activism. The nationally tense historical moments they lived (Civil War, McCarthyism, Vietnam War) made them conceive their writing as a shortcut for the citizens’ complete emancipation within democracy. Both founded their ideas in the romantic conception of language, defined in literary theory by Jacques Derrida as pneumological and phonocentrist: it is in oral language and speech where the pure form of communication, the true meaning of what is said, resides. In poetry, these two authors find the key to fight, through a speech-based poetics, an alternative against the corrupted logocracy of the State. Thus, within the framework of their own political career as Americans, who came to exist with a speech act (the Declaration of Independence), Whitman and Ginsberg aim to point at and inaugurate from the performative act both the poet and the new and alternative nation.