Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in English and Writing Studies



First Reader/Committee Chair

David Marshall


In response to the movement of what is considered and labeled as “Instagram poetry,” poet and critic Rebecca Watts argues that to consider “artless” poetry as “poetry” we are denigrating the artform. This project centers around Watts’ claim that “the reader is dead” due to their encounter with such poetry. This project acts as a conversation that seeks to understand why certain forms of art are considered a “threat” to those who engage with them, as well as to their respective fields. Using affect theory (specifically the theory of the happy object) we can begin to understand why we gravitate towards certain objects, and how those objects act as a “bloom space” – a site of “becoming.” By framing a book of Instagram poetry (like Rupi Kaur’s milk and honey) as a happy object, or an object capable of orienting bodies towards certain possibilities, we can talk against hierarchical notions of art and literature that lead to these distinctions between “high” and “low” art.