Twentieth-Century American Poetry

Saundra Morris

in The Oxford Handbook of Transcendentalism

Published in print April 2010 | ISBN: 9780195331035
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 Twentieth-Century American Poetry

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  • Literary Studies (20th Century onwards)
  • Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)


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A long and rich scholarly tradition has established that twentieth-century American poetry responds constitutively to Transcendentalism. And also, as the article explains, most scholars of Transcendentalism and American poetry have focused on Emerson and subsequent male poets. The article suggests ways to complicate and to extend our understanding of the poetic resonance of the Transcendentalisms of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, and Henry David Thoreau. The article explains that since the major Transcendentalists were white and culturally privileged, one must be careful not simply to reinscribe their voices by invoking marginalized ones as their descendants. While exploring permutations of Transcendentalism in subsequent American poetry, the article also emphasizes its fundamental concern with a politically ethical aesthetics that calls us to imagine the poetically beautiful in terms of the politically just.

Keywords: American poetry; aesthetics; poetic influence; contemporary poetry; grammatical coherence

Article.  4674 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Literary Studies (20th Century onwards) ; Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)

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