Date of Award

Spring 2013

Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of arts (BA)

Department

Global Honors

First Advisor

Ed Chamberlain

Second Advisor

Sara Smilko

Abstract

Sarah Piatt, a recently recovered nineteenth century poet, is best known, where she is known at all, as an American poet. While this label is certainly appropriate, it should not obscure Piatt’s decidedly international focus, or more precisely, her transnational focus, especially in regard to Ireland. Piatt’s verse, considered by some to be the best poetry of her time second only to the work of Emily Dickinson, is remarkable for its quantity and breadth, but more importantly, for its subversive use of genteel style. Though her poems are generally divided into four overlapping categories, the two thematic classes of her poetry that will be explored in the most detail here are her Civil War poems and her “Irish poems,” which were inspired by an eleven year experience living in Ireland. These poems are examined through close reading and transnational analysis, as a conceptual link exists between Piatt’s perspective of the American South during the American Civil War and her depiction of social injustice in her poems about Ireland and the Irish peasantry. These different contexts illustrate how Piatt brings her experience of civil strife and injustice in the United States to Ireland with her, influencing her understanding of political events in Ireland and her sympathies toward the destitute Irish people. As these conceptual ligaments are rarely one-sided, this paper seeks to illuminate the multi-directional nature of the transnational influence that impacts the way that Sarah Piatt’s poetry negotiates understanding at both local and global levels.