Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Meena Alexander

Subject Categories

English Language and Literature | Esthetics | Women's Studies


absence, feminist theory, phenomenology, poetry, silence, visual culture


This dissertation examines the way silence, blank space, and other forms of creative withholding attempt to translate the unsayable, or to convey the unsayability of language in artistic form. Through a study of the works of Sylvia Plath, Jean Rhys, Rachel Zucker, Marguerite Duras, Anne Carson, and visual images, this work observes the connection between women's writing in the 20th century and the communication of painful subject matter through attention to absence. This study attends explicitly to how formal qualities in artistic works attend to ontological concerns through an examination of the intersection of concerns with phenomenology, feminism, and formal aesthetics.


To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.