Degree Name

MA (Master of Arts)



Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

D. Michael Jones

Committee Members

Daniel Westover, Matthew Holtmeier


This thesis analyzes the evolution of the anti-elegy originating with Thomas Hardy’s elegiac sequence in memory of his wife Emma; Poems of 1912-1913. Using French post-structuralist Georges Bataille’s The Accursed Share as a theoretical lens, Hardy’s anti-elegies are analyzed and rhetorically connected to English war poet Siegfried Sassoon’s anti-elegies. Hardy’s anti-sentimentality, fatalistic outlook on death, and rejection of the Christian afterlife seeps into the language of Sassoon’s war poems which serve as a protest to the dehumanizing effects of late capitalism witnessed during the First World War. Hardy and Sassoon’s anti-elegies, with their hyper-focus on the elegized body, are corrupted by capitalism to diminish the human body into a interchangeable, unhuman cog; fully understood as Bataille’s “thing.” The anti-elegy, distorted by capitalism, creates the possibilities necessary for Randall Jarrell’s “The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner” which protests humanity’s objectification under capitalism while creating the ultimate anti-elegy for the anti-elegy.

Document Type

Thesis - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.