Voices from Alanis: A case for poetic dialogism using a Bakhtinian model

Date

2003-12-30

Authors

Jarma, Donna Marie

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Abstract

As the title indicates, this study theorizes on the dialogism of poetry in contrast to Mikhail Bakhtin's insistence on its monologic nature. Seeking to render the study not only valid but also relevant in its modernity, the author uses the lyrics of Alanis Morissette, a popular, alternative musical artist, as her illustrative example. The study progresses setting background information and culminating with an examination of Morissette's body of work (four albums, fifty songs) from 1996 through 2003. The foundation includes a career and writing process sketch of the artist; a methodology section addressing Bakhtin's comments on poetry and dialogue, specifically from “Discourse in the Novel” where he outlines dialogic devices; and a chapter mapping out voice sources and the rhetorical tools used to construct and animate them. The methodology section also introduces, defines, and illustrates pivotal terminology.

Chapter Four traces elements of dialogism throughout Morissette's lyrics pointing out not only Bakhtinian devices and structures, but also intra, inter, and extra-lyric dialogicity as well as Morissette as a proponent of dialogue within and outside of her content. Including complete copies of the lyrics, helpful charts and diagrams, and Internet sources offering musical clips, the study, in the Bakhtinian spirit, encourages the reader not only to consider its premise, but also to join the discourse. Drawing conclusions throughout, the study ends with a proclamation of at least the potential for poetic dialogism and presents possibilities for further study on this subject as well as others inspired by it.

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Keywords

Communication and the arts, Language, literature, and linguistics, Alanis Morissette, Bakhtin, Mikhail, Mikhail Bakhtin, Morissette, Alanis, Popular culture

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