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

  • Stefanie Mueller EMAIL logo


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:


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

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