Date of Award

May 2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Member

Walter Hunter

Committee Member

Matthew Hooley

Committee Member

Michael LeMahieu


In thirty-four numbered entries, The Pink Trance Notebooks (2015) assemble Wayne Koestenbaum’s daily observations, musings, and obsessive attachments that explore the possibilities and dangers of inhabiting a disoriented trace-state. To uncover the politics of trance at the heart of Koestenbaum’s Notebooks, I turn to theories of affect that work well with Koestenbaum’s experimental and innovative poetics. I argue that Koestenbaum’s mode of writing illustrates a drive toward an all-encompassing, inclusionary, and empowering exploration of how to make and how to obscure meaning and knowledge. The three main chapters that comprise this project approach trance poetics from a different conceptual angle. Each section does, however, intend to build upon one another, recognizing the unified nature of trance poetics across epistemic lines. The first, “Today […] Died,” maps Koestenbaum’s treatment of the universal weight of death. The second, “Disgust, Shame, Identity,” attempts to recognize, after death, the arrangement of the self around and its affective reactions about its own being and its proximities. The final, “Bewildering Dreams,” investigates how trance bewilders dreams, and how dreams bewilder attachments in the context of trance poetics. Through close readings of The Pink Trance Notebooks and theoretical analyses, “'I / believe in ruin': Trance, Affect, and Disorientation” attempts to show how Koestenbaum’s trance poetics disorient the attachments between self and world through their capacity to make and confuse the conceptual proximities that are based on the constant wandering of his fractured, floating attentions.



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