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Lines by Someone Else: the Pragmatics of Apprompted Poems

Description: Over the last sixty years, overtly intertextual poems with titles such as “Poem Beginning with a Line by John Ashbery” and “Poem Ending with a Line by George W. Bush” have been appearing at an increasing rate in magazines and collections. These poems wed themselves to other texts and authors in distinct ways, inviting readers to engage with poems which are, themselves, in conversation with lines from elsewhere. These poems, which I refer to as “apprompted” poems, explicitly challenge readers to investigate the intertextual conversation, and in doing so, they adopt inherent risks. My thesis will chart the various effects these poems can have for readers and the consequences they may hold for the texts from which they borrow. Literary critics such as Harold Bloom and J. H. Miller have described the act of borrowing as competitive and parasitic—“agon” is Bloom’s term for what he sees as the oedipal anxiety of poets and poets’ texts to their antecedents, but an investigation of this emerging genre in terms of linguistic pragmatics shows that apprompted poems are performing a wider range of acts in relation to their predecessors. Unlike Bloom’s theory, which interprets the impulse of poetic creation through psychoanalysis, I employ linguistic terms from Brown and Levinson’s linguistic Politeness theory to analyze apprompted poems as conversational speech events. Politeness theory provides a useful analysis of these poems by documenting the weight of threats to the positive and negative “faces” of the participants in each poetic conversation. I have documented these “face-threatening-acts” and used them to divide apprompted poems into five major speech events: satire, revision, promotion, pastiche, and ecclesiastic. Ultimately, this paper serves at the intersection of literary criticism and linguistics, as I suggest a theoretical approach to the interpretation and criticism of apprompted poems by way of linguistic pragmatics.
Date: August 2015
Creator: Gibson, Kimberly Dawn
Partner: UNT Libraries

The Perception and Viability of English Corner on the American Campus

Description: International students are often under considerable pressure from language barriers, culture shock, social isolation and lack of social support in American universities. Those stressors often discourage international students as ESL learners from practicing English with native students on campus. Based on Krashen & Terrell’s subconscious acquisition and conscious learning hypothesis, Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development , Cummins’ Basic Interpersonal Communication System (BICS) and Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency (CALP), Horwitz’s language anxiety and Oxford’s indirect learning strategies , this study explores how international students and American students, respectively, perceive English Corner and whether English Corner could be an applicable out-of-class learning environment for international students to practice English and socialize with American students on American campuses. English Corner refers to regular meetings that English learners in Mainland China voluntarily organize in public places to practice spoken English. A survey was conducted on language learning strategies, socialization, acculturation, autonomy and English Corner among international students and native students at the University of North Texas. The questionnaires were adapted from Oxford and Nyikos’ study as to what variables affect choice of language learning strategies, Iheanacho’s study as to how international students use the Morris Library at the University of Delaware and their perception of library services and programs, and Battle’s study as to how information literacy instruction affects library anxiety among international students. The findings of this study may help American universities realize the importance of English Corner as one optimal intervention program for international students and American students. The support for English Corner may help international students improve their English learning, alleviate their language anxiety and create more opportunities for international students and native students to socialize with each other.
Date: December 2014
Creator: Hu, Jiaying
Partner: UNT Libraries