A collection of essays highlighting the pervasive, yet often unacknowledged, role of Romantic poetry and poetics on modern and contemporary innovative poetry
Literary history generally locates the primary movement toward poetic innovation in twentieth-century modernism, an impulse carried out against a supposedly enervated “late-Romantic” poetry of the nineteenth century. The original essays in Active Romanticism challenge this interpretation by tracing the fundamental continuities between Romanticism’s poetic and political radicalism and the experimental movements in poetry from the late nineteenth century to the present day.
According to editors July Carr and Jeffrey C. Robinson, “active romanticism” is a poetic response, direct or indirect, to pressing social issues and an attempt to redress forms of ideological repression; at its core, “active romanticism” champions democratic pluralism and confronts ideologies that suppress the evidence of pluralism. “Poetry fetter’d, fetters the human race,” declared poet William Blake at the beginning of the nineteenth century. No other statement from the era of the French Revolution marks with such terseness the challenge for poetry to participate in the liberation of human society from forms of inequality and invisibility. No other statement insists so vividly that a poetic event pushing for social progress demands the unfettering of traditional, customary poetic form and language.
Bringing together work by well-known writers and critics, ranging from scholarly studies to poets’ testimonials, Active Romanticism shows Romantic poetry not to be the sclerotic corpse against which the avant-garde reacted but rather the wellspring from which it flowed.
Offering a fundamental rethinking of the history of modern poetry, Carr and Robinson have grouped together in this collection a variety of essays that confirm the existence of Romanticism as an ongoing mode of poetic production that is innovative and dynamic, a continuation of the nineteenth-century Romantic tradition, and a form that reacts and renews itself at any given moment of perceived social crisis.
Dan Beachy-Quick / Julie Carr / Jacques Darras / Rachel Blau DuPlessis / Judith Goldman / Simon Jarvis / Andrew Joron / Nigel Leask / Jennifer Moxley / Bob Perelman / Jeffrey C. Robinson / Jerome Rothenberg / Elizabeth Willis / and Heriberto Yépez
In her now-classic The Pink Guitar, Rachel Blau DuPlessis examined a number of modern and contemporary poets and artists to explore the possibility of finding a language that would question deeply held assumptions about gender. In the 12 essays and introduction that constitute Blue Studios, DuPlessis continues that task, examining the work of experimental poets and the innovative forms they have fashioned to challenge commonplace assumptions about gender and cultural authority.
The essays in “Attitudes and Practices” deal with two questions: what a feminist reading of cultural texts involves, and the nature of the essay itself as a mode of knowing: how poetry can be discursive and how the essay can be poetic. The goal of “Marble Paper,” with its studies of William Wordsworth, Ezra Pound, and Charles Olson is to suggest terms for a “feminist history of poetry.”
“Perspectives must be fashioned that displace and estrange the world,” Theodore Adorno wrote, and in the section "Urrealism" DuPlessis examines the work of poets from several schools (the Objectivists, the New York School, the surrealists) whose work embodies that displacement, among them George Oppen, Lorine Niedecker, H.D., and Barbara Guest. These writers’ radical deployment of line, sound, and structure, DuPlessis argues, demonstrate poetry’s power not as a purely literary, artistic, or aesthetic force but as a rhetorical form intricately tied to issues of power and ethics. And in "Migrated Into,” the author probes the ways these issues have informed her, as a poet and a critic; how the political has “migrated into” and suffused her own work; and how the practice of poetry can be an arousal to a deeper understanding of what we stand for.
What accounts for the power of stories to both entertain and illuminate? This question has long compelled the attention of storytellers and students of literature alike, and over the past several decades it has opened up broader dialogues about the nature of culture and interpretation. This third edition of the bestselling Essentials of the Theory of Fiction provides a comprehensive view of the theory of fiction from the nineteenth century through modernism and postmodernism to the present. It offers a sample of major theories of fictional technique while emphasizing recent developments in literary criticism. The essays cover a variety of topics, including voice, point of view, narration, sequencing, gender, and race. Ten new selections address issues such as oral memory in African American fiction, temporality, queer theory, magical realism, interactive narratives, and the effect of virtual technologies on literature. For students and generalists alike, Essentials of the Theory of Fiction is an invaluable resource for understanding how fiction works.
Contributors. M. M. Bakhtin, John Barth, Roland Barthes, Wayne Booth, John Brenkman, Peter Brooks, Catherine Burgass, Seymour Chatman, J. Yellowlees Douglas, Rachel Blau DuPlessis, Wendy B. Faris, Barbara Foley, E. M. Forster, Joseph Frank, Joanne S. Frye, William H. Gass, Henry Louis Gates Jr., Gérard Genette, Ursula K. Heise, Michael J. Hoffman, Linda Hutcheon, Henry James, Susan S. Lanser, Helen Lock, Georg Lukács, Patrick D. Murphy, Ruth Ronen, Joseph Tabbi, Jon Thiem, Tzvetan Todorov, Virginia Woolf
The women of The Feminist Memoir Project give voice to the spirit, the drive, and the claims of the Women's Liberation Movement they helped shape, beginning in the late 1960s. These thirty-two writers were among the thousands to jump-start feminism in the late twentieth century. Here, in pieces that are passionate, personal, critical, and witty, they describe what it felt like to make history, to live through and contribute to the massive social movement that transformed the nation.
What made these particular women rebel? And what experiences, ideas, feelings, and beliefs shaped their activism? How did they maintain the will and energy to keep such a struggle going for so long, and continuing still?
Memoirs and responses by Kate Millett, Vivian Gornick, Michele Wallace, Alix Kates Shulman, Joan Nestle, Jo Freeman, Yvonne Rainer, Barbara Smith, Ellen Willis, Eve Ensler, Shirley Geok-lin Lim, Roxanne Dunbar, Naomi Weisstein, Alice Wolfson and many more embody the excitement that fueled the movement and the conflicts that threatened it from within. Their stories trace the ways the world has changed.
"Objectivist" writers, conjoined through a variety of personal, ideological, and literary-historical links, have, from the late 1920s to the present, attracted emulation and suspicion. Representing a nonsymbolist, postimagist poetics and characterized by a historical, realist, antimythological worldview, Objectivists have retained their outsider status. Despite such status, however, the formal, intellectual, ideological, and ethical concerns of the Objectivist nexus have increasingly influenced poetry and poetics in the United States.
Thus, argue editors Rachel Blau DuPlessis and Peter Quartermain, the time has come for an anthology that unites essential works on Objectivist practices and presents Objectivist writing as an enlargement of the possibilities of poetry rather than as a determinable and definable literary movement. The authors' collective aim is to bring attention to this group of poets and to exemplify and specify cultural readings for poetic texts--readings alert to the material world, politics, society, and history, and readings concerned with the production, dissemination, and reception of poetic texts.
The contributors consider Basil Bunting, Lorine Niedecker, George Oppen, Carl Rakosi, Charles Reznikoff, and Louis Zukofsky within both their historical milieu and our own. The essays insist on poetry as a mode of thought; analyze and evaluate Objectivist politics; focus on the ethical, spiritual, and religious issues raised by certain Objectivist affiliations with Judaism; and explore the dissemination of poetic texts and the vagaries of Objectivist reception. Running throughout the book are two related threads: Objectivist writing as generally a practice aware of its own historical and social contingency and Objectivist writing as a site of complexity, contestation, interrogation, and disagreement.
An influential feminist study of poetry and writing.
The Pink Guitar is a landmark study of women's writing and poetics--and representations of women artists--in the 20th century. It probes the work of H.D., William Carlos Williams, and Marcel Duchamp, among others, and includes DuPlessis’s pioneering essay “For the Etruscans,” described in American Literature as “one of the finest pieces of criticism in the feminist literary tradition.”
“This is one of the most pleasurable works of criticism I have read in years. These essays fuse disparate voices, colloquial, theoretical, autobiographical. They intercut DuPlessis’s own words with those of other writers and poets. They draw together aspects of being usually sundered in criticism, without imposing systems or closure.” --Helen Carr, New Formations
What is patriarchal poetry? How can it be both attractive and tempting and yet be so hegemonic that it is invisible? How does it combine various mixes of masculinity, femininity, effeminacy, and eroticism? At once passionate and dispassionate, Rachel Blau DuPlessis meticulously outlines key moments of choice and debate about masculinity among writers as disparate as Ezra Pound, T. S. Eliot, Louis Zukofsky, Charles Olson, Robert Creeley, and Allen Ginsberg, choices that construct consequential models for institutions of poetic practice.
As DuPlessis writes, “There are no genderless subjects in any relationship structuring literary culture: not in production, dissemination, or reception; not in objects, discourses, or practices; not in reading experiences or in interpretations.” And, as she reveals in careful and enthralling detail, for the poets at the center of this book, questions of masculinity loomed large and were continuously articulated in their self-creation as writers, in literary bonding, and in its deployment.
These gender-laden choices, debates, and contradictions all have a striking influence today. In this empathic yet critical historical polemic, DuPlessis reveals the outcomes of these many investments in the radical reconstruction of masculinity, in their strains, incompleteness, tensions—and failures. At the heart of modernist maleness and poetic practices are contradictions and urgencies, gender ideas both progressive and defensive.In a striking book on male behavior in poetic dyads, the third book in a feminist critical trilogy, DuPlessis tracks the poetic debates and arguments about gender that continuously affirm patriarchal poetry.
"What have I in common with Jews? I hardly have anything in common with myself!"
Kafka's quip--paradoxical, self-questioning, ironic--highlights vividly some of the key issues of identity and self-representation for Jewish writers in the 20th century. No group of writers better represents the problems of Jewish identity than Jewish poets writing in the American modernist tradition--specifically secular Jews: those disdainful or suspicious of organized religion, yet forever shaped by those traditions.
This collection of essays is the first to address this often obscured dimension of modern and contemporary poetry: the secular Jewish dimension. Editors Daniel Morris and Stephen Paul Miller asked their contributors to address what constitutes radical poetry written by Jews defined as "secular," and whether or not there is a Jewish component or dimension to radical and modernist poetic practice in general. These poets and critics address these questions by exploring the legacy of those poets who preceded and influenced them--Stein, Zukofsky, Reznikoff, Oppen, and Ginsberg, among others.
While there is no easy answer for these writers about what it means to be a Jew, in their responses there is a rich sense of how being Jewish reflects on their aesthetics and practices as poets, and how the tradition of the avant-garde informs their identities as Jews. Fragmented identities, irony, skepticism, a sense of self as "other" or "outsider," distrust of the literal, and belief in a tradition that questions rather than answers--these are some of the qualities these poets see as common to themselves, the poetry they make, and the tradition they work within.
Objectivist poet George Oppen (1908–1984), along with his contemporaries Lorine Niedecker, Charles Reznikoff, and Carl Rakoski, provide an important bridge between the vanguard modernist American poets and the later works of poets such as Robert Creeley. In work often compounded by the populist urbanity of city lives, the Objectivists explored the social statements poetry can make. Because Oppen wrote only one essay and one essay-review, his correspondence, in effect, constitutes his essays. Oppen is emerging as one of the major poets of the postwar era; he was the recipient of an American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters Award, the PEN/West Rediscovery Award, and a Senior Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. His collection Of Being Numerous received the 1969 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. These working papers include a rich correspondence, letters which provide access to the sustained, perceptive body of critical and aesthetic thinking of Oppen’s poetic career. Provocative and witty comments on poetry and poetics, especially interesting for the development of an Objectivist aesthetics, and shrewd, deeply felt assessments about the politics of the twentieth century and its moral dilemmas are some of the issues attended to. This edition offers primary documentation about an influential poetics, a little-known movement, and its active figures. Given the aggressive studies of the politics of canon-formation, the interest in describing a historical context for individual literary achievement, and current debates about mainstream poetry, the rethinking of the Objectivist movement, and the collection of documents contributing to its poetics, is an important achievement in literary scholarship.