Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



Major Professor

Allen Dunn

Committee Members

Alisa Schoenbach, Urmilla Seshagiri


Ezra Pound took Eliot’s theory of Literary Impersonality seriously and rejected biographical readings of his poetry. Yet, his poem Hugh Sewlyn Mauberley contains explicitly autobiographical material, which is directly related to the poem’s meaning and has been referenced repeatedly in historical criticism of the poem. This creates a paradox of interpretation, in which the poem’s interpretive meaning stands in contrast with the author’s preferred style of interpretation. The intent of this Thesis is to work within this paradox by applying new criticism on literary autobiography to the poem; specifically the work of Max Saunders, Kevin Wong, and Hannah Sullivan. As a result of this experiment, the poem can be understood as being intentionally autobiographical in its presentation of Pound’s former literary sensibilities. By using autobiography as a formal feature, Pound is able to reject and critique the form in the very act of using it, while remaining impersonal in relation to the expression of self within the poem. The poem can simultaneously be understood as impersonal Modernist poetry, autobiographical expression, and a powerful critique of self-expression in poetry. Overall, this points to Pound’s interest in experimenting with subjectivity and objectivity in his poetry; the specific result of this reading presents Modernist poetry as capable of complex depictions of consciousness, which stands in contrast with past studies that focus only on their impersonality.

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