In-search of the psyche: The multiplicity of mythic selves in Wallace Stevens

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)



First Committee Member

Patrick McCarthy - Committee Chair


In "The Noble Rider and the Sound of Words," Wallace Stevens considers the following question: "What is [the poet's] function?" (29). "It is not," he postulates, "to lead people out of the confusion in which they find themselves." His function is also not "to comfort them while they follow their readers to and fro." His function is, Stevens proposes, "to make his imagination theirs and that he fulfills himself only as he sees his imagination become the light in the minds of others" (29). "In-Search of the Psyche: The Multiplicity of Mythic Selves Wallace Stevens" considers the following question: Who are the created selves who find their minds infused with the light of a Stevensian sense of imagination? Using a Jungian lens of inquiry---depth psychologist James Hillman's theories on the role of psychoanalysis, the psychoanalyst, the soul, and the soul's relation to imagination and reality---my work considers the artistic and psychological creation of imaginative selves (poet, poet figure, speakers, readers) and the psychic and concrete realities they assume in the poetry of Wallace Stevens. I further consider the mythic man and his journey in the poetry of Stevens and Walt Whitman, the self-created theory of poetic hesitancy, present in works by Stevens, John Keats, and William Butler Yeats, the Dionysian Consciousness of Shakespeare's sonnets and Stevens's poetry, and the desire for transformation through the death urge shared by the created selves of Stevens, Thomas Pynchon, and William Carlos Williams.


Literature, Modern; Literature, American

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