Honors Theses

Date of Award


Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis



First Advisor

Ann Fisher

Relational Format



This thesis explores the works of three poets whose works offer a response to the AIDS epidemic: Thom Gunn, Paul Monette, and Mark Doty. With chapters dedicated to each poefs work individually, the thesis examines the works in terms of thematic content, formal characteristics, and sociopolitical relevance. The three central chapters are framed by personal essays that also explore general characteristics of AIDS poetry In the great tradition of the elegy and the lyric. While all three poets offer narratives alternative to the political discourse surrounding the disease, each poet's response is unique - just as each poet's relationship to the disease is unique. The works studied here stand as cultural artifacts of the early days of the AIDS epidemic, when the disease had yet to reach the status of a global pandemic. The deeply personal and, at times. Intensely political responses illustrate the struggle inherent in artistic activism - expressing the horrors of individual narratives while attempting to cry out collectively for recognition and response.

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