PhD (full-time) - currently registered
Hybrid Forms: The Function of Mathematics in Oulipian Poetry
My research examines the effects of mathematical constraint on form, structure and imagery in works of Oulipian poetry that are governed by a conceptual form of constraint. Given the 'transportability of constraint-based creativity', as Jan Baetens and Jean-Jacques Poucel put it, Oulipian poetry encompasses not only that which has been written under constraint by members of the Oulipo, but also work produced by writers outside of the group who have adhered to its principles. The representation of mathematics in both subsets of Oulipian poetry will therefore be evaluated in my thesis.
While recent publications such as Lauren Elkin and Scott Esposito's The End of Oulipo?: An Attempt to Exhaust a Movement (2013) have questioned whether Oulipian methods of literary composition have run their course in terms of innovation, my thesis will reconsider the technical inventiveness present in Oulipian poetry following 'the group's staggeringly successful run through the 1960s and 1970s.' This in itself requires an assessment of whether more innovative mathematical constraints have been created by the Oulipo or by those outside it since the group's early period, which I intend to achieve by aligning Jacques Roubaud and Raymond Queneau with poets like Inger Christensen, whose poem alphabet (1981) bears mathematical and linguistic constraints that are similar to those present in the work of the Oulipo.
The creative element of my thesis is a collection of poetry governed by a strict mathematical constraint of my own devising.
Matthew Welton, University of Nottingham
Dr. Emma Wagstaff, University of Birmingham
Primary Funding Source
AHRC Midlands3Cities Doctoral Training Partnership
Conference Papers & Presentations
'Constraint and Oblivion in Inger Christensen's alphabet', at The Effects of the Oulipo: Impact, Continuities, Appropriations, Reactions, Western Sydney University, 11th-13th December 2019.