Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Liberal Studies


George Fragopoulos

Subject Categories

American Literature | American Studies | Modern Literature | Photography


American Studies, Contemporary American Poetry, Photography, Elegy, Postmodernism


This thesis documents four distinct post-WWII North American writers and artists—the poet John Berryman, the poet John Ashbery, the classicist and writer Anne Carson, and the photographer Nan Goldin—who expanded traditional definitions and practices of portraiture. Their works—The Dream Songs, “Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror,” Nox, and The Ballad of Sexual Dependency (and “The Cookie Portfolio”)—developed new ways of representing human subjectivity and the self that integrated the influences of Romanticism, Modernism and Postmodernism, but were not defined by these movements. In an era when notions of autonomous art and human identity became fractured, they picked up the pieces and rearranged them to make portraits (within-self-portraits) that put personhood and mortality at the center of their art.

In addition to close readings and comparisons of the poems, texts, and photographs, this thesis will situate the above and related works in their literary- and art-historical contexts. It will also reference relevant theoretical frameworks applied to these works and genres by critics and scholars.