Skip to content
Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter March 17, 2021

“No more little boxes” – Poetic Positionings in the Literary Field

Stefanie Mueller

Abstract

My article’s title borrows a line from Thomas Sayers Ellis’s poem “Skin, Inc.” (2010), a poem which uses the metaphor of incorporation in terms of its economic and formal affordances: formally as signifying upon a container, a box, in which the poet/lyric persona finds himself trapped as he is trying to create and to write; and economically, as signifying upon the poet as entrepreneur, who has to sell a brand and a product in the literary marketplace. Based on Pierre Bourdieu’s work on the theory of the literary field, I think of the poem as a form of poetic position-taking in the literary field in the Unites States in 2010. In my reading, I explore the literary marketplace as presented in the poem, and I argue that we can use this image of the market to think about the role of race in the literary field in the US, in particular with regard to what has been called the “post-soul aesthetic.”


Corresponding author: PD Dr. Stefanie Mueller, Institute of English and American Studies, Goethe University of Frankfurt, Norbert-Wollheim-Platz 1, 60629Frankfurt am Main, Germany, E-mail:

References

Ashe, B. D. 2007. “Theorizing the Post-Soul Aesthetic: An Introduction.” African American Review 41 (4): 609–23, https://doi.org/10.2307/25426980.Search in Google Scholar

Bourdieu, P. 1983. “The Field of Cultural Production, or: The Economic World Reversed.” Poetics 12: 311–56, https://doi.org/10.1016/0304-422x(83)90012-8.Search in Google Scholar

Bourdieu, P. 1996. Rules of Art. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.10.1515/9781503615861Search in Google Scholar

Buschendorf, C. 2018. “Introduction: Key Concepts of Relational Sociology as Tools of Hermeneutics.” In Power Relations in Black Lives. Bielefeld: transcript Verlag.10.1515/9783839436608-002Search in Google Scholar

Ellis, T. S. 2010. Skin, Inc. Minneapolis, MN: Graywolf Press.Search in Google Scholar

Equiano, O. 2001. The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, edited by W. Sollors. New York, NY: W. W. Norton.Search in Google Scholar

Gurr, J.-M. 2010. Bourdieu, Capital, and the Postcolonial Marketplace. In Commodifying (Post)Colonialism: Othering, Reification, Commodification and the New Literatures and Cultures in English, edited by R. Emig and O. Lindner. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 3–19.Search in Google Scholar

Hoagland, T. 2013. “Audacious Dark Polemic Poetics.” American Poetry Review 42 (2): 11–4.Search in Google Scholar

Jones, G., and Guest, I. 2008. “Corporate Cannibal.” Hurricane: Wall of Sound.Search in Google Scholar

Maus, D. C. 2014. “‘Mommy, What’s a Post-Soul Satirist?’: An Introduction.” In Post-soul Satire: Black Identity After Civil Rights, edited by D. C. Maus and J. J. Donahue. Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi’ xi–xxiii.10.14325/mississippi/9781617039973.001.0001Search in Google Scholar

Mueller, S. 2013. The Presence of the Past in the Novels of Toni Morrison. Heidelberg: Universitätsverlag Winter.Search in Google Scholar

Mueller, S. 2017. “Exceeding Determinacy in the Language of Personhood: Citizens United, Corporations, and the Poetry of Timothy Donnelly and Thomas Sayers Ellis.” Amerikastudien/American Studies: Quarterly 62 (2): 301–22, (Special Issue: Poetry and Law, edited by B. Christ and S. Mueller).Search in Google Scholar

Müller, T. 2018. “‘What’s the Position You Hold?’: Bourdieu and Rap Music.” In Power Relations in Black Lives, edited by C. Buschendorf. Bielefeld: transcript Verlag, 165–82.Search in Google Scholar

Neal, M. A. 2001. Soul Babies: Black Popular Culture and the Post-Soul Aesthetic. New York, NY, and London: Routledge.Search in Google Scholar

Reed, B. 2007. “The Dark Room Collective and Post-Soul Poetics.” African American Review 41 (4): 727–47, https://doi.org/10.2307/25426987.Search in Google Scholar

Rowell, C. H., and Ellis, T. S. 1998. “An Interview with Thomas Sayers Ellis.” Callaloo 21 (1): 88–99, https://doi.org/10.1353/cal.1998.0045.Search in Google Scholar

Rowell, C. H. 2004. “The Editor’s Notes.” Callaloo 27 (4): vii–ix, https://doi.org/10.1353/cal.2004.0193.Search in Google Scholar

Shaviro, S. 2010. Post-Cinematic Affect. Winchester and Washington, DC: Zero Books.Search in Google Scholar

Published Online: 2021-03-17
Published in Print: 2021-03-26

© 2020 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston