Robert Lowell, Richard Nixon, and the poetics of surveillance

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Richard Nixon’s White House taping system has become iconic of a burgeoning culture of surveillance in the United States. Analysis of this culture has generally described an erosion of discourse and trust. But by juxtaposing Robert Lowell’s poetry with Nixon’s rhetoric, one can see how both men took advantage of an emergent presumption of ubiquitous surveillance to create spaces in which overhearing might be read as oversight. Together, their work defines a poetics of surveillance that augurs the emergence of participatory social networking as a medium of everyday surveillance. Copyright © 2018 University of Texas Press.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-31
JournalTexas Studies in Literature and Language
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2018


Clapp, J. (2018). Robert Lowell, Richard Nixon, and the poetics of surveillance. Texas Studies in Literature and Language, 60(1), 1–31. doi: 10.7560/TSLL60101


  • Robert Lowell
  • Richard Nixon
  • Surveillance
  • Performance
  • Overhearing


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