From Outlaw to Classic presents a sweeping history of the forces that have shaped, and continue to shape, the American poetry canon. Students, scholars, critics, and poets will welcome this enlightening and impressively documented book.
Recent writings by critics and theorists on literary canons have dealt almost exclusively with prose; Alan Golding shows that, like all canons, those of American poetry are characterized by conflict. Choosing a series of varied but representative instances, he analyzes battles and contentions among poets, anthologists, poetry magazine editors, and schools of thought in university English departments. The chapters:
• present a history of American poetry anthologies
• compare competing models of canon-formation, the aesthetic (poet-centered) and the institutional (critic-centered)
• discuss the influence of the New Critics, emphasizing their status as practicing poets, their anti-nationalist reading of American poetry, and the landmark textbook, Understanding Poetry by Cleanth Brooks and Robert Penn Warren
• examine the canonizing effects of an experimental “little magazine,” Origin
• trace how the Language poets address, in both their theory and their method, the canonizing institutions and canonical assumptions of the age.