Poetry with theory
in Reading poetry
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In the 1980s and 1990s, at the height of the so-called 'theory wars' between traditional and theoretical approaches to literature, the notion of close reading was treated with great suspicion. It is perfectly possible to read poetry without reference to any specified literary theory. The use of theory can help us to appreciate and enjoy poetry and see unfamiliar aspects of it. To illustrate this, this chapter discusses three poems about women. The three poems show women working in 'extreme' occupations, raising issues about 'gender roles', among other things. The three poems are 'The Peepshow Girl', 'The Interview with the Knife-Thrower's Assistant' and Gun Girl Chicago 1929. As a way of reading this poem with theory, the chapter draws upon works of art history, art theory, literary theory, film theory or feminist theory.

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