The history of canonical love poetry is inaccurate without the inclusion of minoritized groups. The relevance of the sonnet’s incomplete history and its lingering impact on contemporary poetry are not examined enough within academia. The sonnet is taught through white-, straight-, and cisgender-centered lenses, contributing to the erasure of historically relevant sonneteers who do not align with these identities. This thesis celebrates the diverse history of sonneteering, while drawing attention to the remaining narrow-mindedness within the poetic community. This thesis dismantles traditional elements of the sonnet through varying form, subject matter, and stylistic choices.

When viewed in the physical form, these works push for inclusivity by appealing to a multitude of sensory factors. Whether the reader relates to the poems’ contents themselves is irrelevant — these sonnets are made to be enjoyed by any person, whether it be through the oral feeling of the language, the abstract physical manipulation, the content, the formatting on the page, the rhythm, or any other factor.

By considering the intersections that allow readers to appreciate content, this thesis reframes how audiences are meant to enjoy poetry. The hyper-fixation within traditional sonnets on strict rhyme patterns and formatting choices, as well as the expectation for the reader to completely understand and relate to the emotional content, is inherently limiting to the art of writing. Poetry can, and should, be enjoyed on an individualized basis without harsh restrictions on the “proper” way to read the works. Through content and form-based reformation, the sonnet can prevail as a genre open to change and relevant to modern and historical minoritized communities.

Thesis Completion




Thesis Chair/Advisor

Hurt, Rochelle


Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)


College of Arts and Humanities



Degree Program

Creative Writing



Access Status

Open Access

Release Date


Included in

Poetry Commons