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Advertising Stigmatas: The Evolution of Advertising in American Poetic Culture

  • Author(s): Spies, Elizabeth Jean
  • Advisor(s): Axelrod, Steven Gould
  • et al.
Abstract

ABSTRACT OF THE DISSERTATION

Advertising Stigmatas: The Evolution of Advertising in American Poetic Culture

by

Elizabeth Jean Spies

In my dissertation, I outline the ways that technological developments in twentieth century advertising have infiltrated, altered, and affected American Poetics. Beginning in late nineteenth century, I discuss the expansion and maturation of twentieth century advertising and marketing techniques and how poetry fashioned new techniques of appropriating such advertising advancements within their critical discourse. Through the interweaving of historical turning points, technological developments, and the rhetorically motivated appropriation of advertising techniques, I show how the modernist poets, the Cold War poets Sylvia Plath, Allen Ginsberg, and postmodern poet Amy Gerstler develop new doctrine within semantic and cognitive poetics which in turn affect a new understanding of twentieth century aesthetics.

In the first chapter, "Advertising Stigmatas: The Evolution of Advertising in 20th Century Poetry," I examine how the modernist poets incorporated advertising through the appropriation of war advertising, through the development of multi-medium collage poetry, and through avant garde marketing strategies. In chapter 2, I discuss Sylvia Plath's internalization of suburban culture as she peppers her poetic work with advertisements for household products and even suburban architecture as a national symbol of cold war domestic politics. In chapter 3, I begin with the poetry of Allen Ginsberg, whose promotion of marginalized figures began through the re-use and de-coding of mainstream advertising. Called "subvertising," Ginsberg's poetics engendered a new aesthetics with which to market his own poetic celebrity. And lastly, through the postmodern poetry of Amy Gerstler, I discuss poetry in terms of traditional semantic understandings of mainstream media exposes cognitive pattern creation, social stereotyping, ad imagery and popular semantic stimuli within popular advertising.

In the broader sense, each of the aforementioned poets admit a dimension of complicity within a mainstream advertising system, either in their use of advertising imagery or through their employment of marketing strategies to publicize their poetic images. However, at its very core, poetry and aesthetics have been embedded with how we perceive and cognitively translate our individual sensory perceptions, our emotional milieu, and our contemporaneous intellectual forum. If poetic aesthetics can be understood as a perceptual, critical reflection on culture, nature and philosophy, my work shows that in the field of mass advertising culture, cognitive studies and poetics there lies dormant a new, unacknowledged social standard of beauty.

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