115th Annual Conference - Honolulu, Hawaii
Friday, November 10 - Sunday, November 12, 2017

Four Ways of Looking at “Prometheus”: Envisioning Kafka’s Story as Modernist Poetry and Theopoiesis 

Jennifer Tronti, California Baptist University

In form, Kafka’s “Prometheus” bears a remarkable resemblance to Wallace Stevens’s “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird” – a kind of ars poetica of Modernism itself. Framing Kafka’s text “Prometheus” as a Modernist poem and an emblem of theopoiesis emphasizes its fragmented and multivalent approach to representation and experience.

Proposal: 

According to the late Stanley Romaine Hopper, scholar of religion and literature, “Modern poetry is at once a meditation and a challenge, a confession and a prophecy, an accusation and a prayer. It is essentially a poetry of inwardness.” Hopper’s description of Modernist poetry is heavily influenced by his understanding of poetic activity as an expression of the religious imagination – what he called theopoiesis. In content, Kafka’s brief story “Prometheus” critiques the relationship between Prometheus’s actions and the gods’ reactions. In form, Kafka’s “Prometheus” bears a remarkable resemblance to Wallace Stevens’s “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird” – a kind of ars poetica of Modernism itself. Framing Kafka’s text “Prometheus” as a Modernist poem and an emblem of theopoiesis emphasizes its fragmented and multivalent approach to representation and experience.