This thesis investigates citation as a method of poetic composition, in relation to a variety of its historical and contemporary uses. Citation is here considered as an action, performative textual device, and general property of language, also used to maintain various standards of textual authority. Through examining the implications of the citational capacity to 'summon' and 'bind,' this thesis explores the manifold character of citation, in terms of its potential as a means toward poetic language. These arguments are advanced by reference to a variety of sources, including Walter Benjamin's commentaries on citation, Antoine Compagnon's discussions of citational dialectics, and Marjorie Perloff's claims as to the importance of citation in poetry.
By particular reference to Benjamin and uses of citation in historical practices of commonplacing, the thesis examines how citational methods in poetry may be used to both reproduce and disrupt standards of textual authority and cultural significance. In this regard, the thesis differentiates between a range of citational poetries and the use of citation in conceptual writing. It takes the citational methods of conceptual writing to represent a characteristically acquisitive treatment of significance, achieved by conjoining the force of citation to varied manifestations of allegorical effect.
In proposing a citational poetics by contrast, this thesis explores the capacity of citation to structure proliferating relations between the referents of poetic works, and across textual and visual arts practices more generally. Here, language itself is construed in citational terms as a repository of cultural significance and purpose, in arguments relating to Benjamin, Hannah Arendt, Roland Barthes, and George Lakoff. These are accompanied by consideration of the significance of the means by which found materials are 'cited' into poetry, and framed in relation to transcription.
As an exploration of the poetic potential of citational force, by reference to a range of practitioners across poetry and visual art, this thesis accordingly considers how the expansive referential capacities of citation can be used to establish a variety of poetic forms, into which widely dispersed cultural significances can be 'summoned,' unsettled and re-formed.