Epistemology in Wallace Stevens

Wallace Stevens, a modernist poet who emerged in the 1920s and gained widespread popularity in the 40s, writes very philosophical poetry, and this element of his work sets him apart from his Modernist contemporaries. Stevens’ poems are about the relationship of human imagination and reality, the role of religion in humans’ understanding of reality, and the source of reality’s value. His poetry seeks to answer questions like: how can we know? How do human beliefs and perceptions affect our understanding of reality? Which version of reality is the true version? Epistemology, a discipline of philosophy that deals with the study of theories of knowledge, investigates similar questions. My summer research will analyze the philosophical ideas found in Wallace Stevens’ poems, focusing on how theories of epistemology illuminate the themes in his poetry.