Date of Award

6-1-2012

Document Type

Campus Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)

Department

English/Creative Writing

First Advisor

Lloyd Schwartz

Second Advisor

Jill McDonough

Third Advisor

Nadia Nurhussein

Abstract

Flummydiddles is a collection of poems that engage contemporary gender politics, drawing on fashion magazines, art, Greek myth, and the language of celebrity culture as inspiration and background texts. "Flummydiddle" is an obsolete, colloquial term for a thing deemed trivial, nonsensical, or silly. While this 19th-century word was used in a variety of contexts, its definition embodies the patriarchal attitude toward feminine ornamentation: across cultures and time periods, women have been expected to enhance their appearance with a variety of cosmetics, apparel, and body-contorting accessories--while at the same time being criticized for doing so. Perpetuating social mores that kept women dependent upon marriage for economic stability, men have historically rewarded women for skilled ornamentation by deeming them attractive, and thus marriageable, while citing the so-called feminine "preference" for self-ornamentation as evidence that women inherently lack reason, and are therefore inferior to men. The poems in Flummydiddles grapple with the idea that--even though present-day women are largely less dependent upon marriage for economic stability, and perhaps even because of the progress women have made in the last century--this destructive dichotomy is still widely prevalent today. Many of these poems are collages of language found in magazine articles and advertisements. The juxtaposition of fashion magazines and Greek myth, or "low" and "high" culture, infuses these pieces with multiple voices and several layers of meaning. The result is a highly ambivalent interrogation of pop culture, high art, celebrity, language, gender, fashion, authorship, beauty, and sexuality.

Comments

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