A Massive System of Urgency: Susan Howe’s Pierce-Arrow

  • Matthew Carbery
Part of the Modern and Contemporary Poetry and Poetics book series (MPCC)


In this chapter, Carbery presents a substantial reading of the relationship between Husserlian phenomenology and Susan Howe’s historical poetics, with a particular emphasis on her long poem Pierce-Arrow (1997). Carbery uncovers the relationship Howe proposes in this poem between American Pragmatism and European Phenomenology. Howe’s interest does not lie merely in raising the comparison between Edmund Husserl and Peirce but also on exploring the lebenswelt (life-world) of Peirce and his wife, Juliette. In this regard, it is a work of radically experimental extended poetics which both investigates and adopts phenomenological methodologies. The chapter develops this argument by investigating Howe’s marginal interests and the methodology she develops in approaching marginalia and archival materials. The chapter concludes by turning to the work of Emmanuel Levinas in order to ground Howe’s practice in terms of a phenomenological ethics.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Matthew Carbery
    • 1
  1. 1.Plymouth UniversityPlymouthUK

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