• Jason Lagapa
Part of the American Literature Readings in the 21st Century book series (ALTC)


This chapter takes as its subject the utopian imagination in contemporary American poetry and explores the ways in which experimental poets—Language writers and other formally innovative poets—formulate a utopian poetics by adopting the rhetorical principles of negative theology. Lagapa argues that an understanding of negative theology is essential to recognizing the utopian potential of American experimental poetry. Negative theology proposes using negative statements as a means of attesting to the superior, unrepresentable being of God, and a strategy of negation similarly proves optimal for depicting the subject of utopia in literary works. Negative statements in contemporary experimental poetry illustrate the potential for utopian social change not by portraying an ideal world itself but by revealing the very challenge of representing utopia directly.


Utopia Negative theology Language poetry Experimental poetry Negation 

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© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jason Lagapa
    • 1
  1. 1.English DepartmentUniversity of Texas of the Permian BasinOdessaUSA

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