The Cambridge History of American Poetry offers a comprehensive exploration of the development of American poetic traditions from their beginnings until the end of the twentieth century. Bringing together the insights of fifty distinguished scholars, this literary history emphasizes the complex roles that poetry has played in American cultural and intellectual life, detailing the variety of ways in which both public and private forms of poetry have met the needs of different communities at different times. The Cambridge History of American Poetry recognizes the existence of multiple traditions and a dramatically fluid canon, providing current perspectives on both major authors and a number of representative figures whose work embodies the diversity of America's democratic traditions.
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Alfred Bendixen teaches at Princeton University; he is the founder and executive director of the American Literature Association. Much of his scholarship focuses on the recovery of unjustly neglected literary texts and the exploration of neglected genres. He is the author of numerous books on American poetry and literature, including recent titles such as A Companion to the American Novel (2012); A Companion to the American Short Story (2010); and The Cambridge Companion to American Travel Writing (2009), co-edited with Judith Hamera. Stephen Burt is Professor of English and Director of Undergraduate Studies at Harvard University. His books of literary criticism and scholarship include The Art of the Sonnet (2010), with David Mikics; Close Calls with Nonsense (2009), a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle award; The Forms of Youth: 20th-Century Poetry and Adolescence (2007); and Randall Jarrell and his Age (2002), winner of the Warren-Brooks Award. He is also the author of three full-length books of poetry: Belmont (2013); Parallel Play (2006); and Popular Music (1999), winner of the Colorado Prize.
Introduction Alfred Bendixen and Stephen Burt; Part I. Beginnings: Poetry before 1800: 1. Remembering Muskrat: native poetics and the American Indian oral tradition Betty Booth Donohue; 2. Rhyming empires: early American poetry in languages other than English Susan Castillo Street; 3. The world, the flesh, and God in puritan poetry Robert Daly; 4. Confronting death: the New England puritan elegy Jeffrey A. Hammond; 5. The emergence of a Southern tradition Jim Egan; 6. Poetry in the time of revolution Kevin J. Hayes; Part II. A New Nation: Poetry, 1800-1900: 7. Asserting a national voice Frank Gado; 8. The emergence of romantic traditions Alfred Bendixen; 9. Linen shreds and melons in a field: Emerson and his contemporaries Christoph Irmscher; 10. Edgar Allan Poe's lost worlds Eliza Richards; 11. Longfellow in his time Virginia Jackson; 12. Whittier, Holmes, Lowell and the New England tradition Michael Cohen; 13. Other voices, other verses: cultures of American poetry at midcentury Mary Loeffelholz; 14. American poetry fights the Civil War Faith Barrett; 15. Walt Whitman's invention of a democratic poetry Ed Folsom; 16. Emily Dickinson: the poetics and practice of autonomy Wendy Martin; 17. The South in Reconstruction: white and black voices John D. Kerkering; 18. The 'genteel tradition' and its discontents Elizabeth Renker; 19. Disciplined play: American children's poetry to 1920 Angela Sorby; 20. Dialect, doggerel, and local color: comic traditions and the rise of realism in popular poetry David E. E. Sloane; 21. Political poets and naturalism Tyler Hoffman; Part III. Forms of Modernism, 1900-50: 22. The twentieth century begins John Timberman Newcomb; 23. Robert Frost and tradition Siobhan Phillips; 24. T. S. Eliot Charles Altieri; 25. William Carlos Williams: the shock of the familiar Bob Perelman; 26. Finding 'only words' mysterious: reading Mina Loy (and H. D.) in America Cristanne Miller; 27. Marianne Moore and the printed page Robin Schulze; 28. The formalist modernism of Edna St Vincent Millay, Helene Johnson, and Louise Bogan Lesley Wheeler; 29. The romantic and anti-romantic in the poetry of Wallace Stevens George Lensing; 30. Ezra Pound, William Carlos Williams, and the east coast projectivists Matthew Hofer; 31. Langston Hughes and his world David Chioni Moore; 32. The objectivists and the left Mark Scroggins; 33. 'All the blessings of this consuming chance': Robert Lowell, John Berryman, Theodore Roethke, and the middle generation poets David Wojahn; 34. Elizabeth Bishop, Randall Jarrell, and the lost world of real feeling Richard Flynn; 35. Writing the South Ernest Suarez; Part IV. Beyond Modernism: American Poetry, 1950-2000: 36. San Francisco and the Beats Stephen Fredman; 37. The New York school Brian Reed; 38. The uses of authenticity: four sixties poets Nick Halpern; 39. James Merrill and his circles David Bergman; 40. Science in contemporary American poetry: Ammons and others Roger Gilbert; 41. The 1970s and the 'poetry of the center' Edward Brunner; 42. Latino poetry and poetics Rigoberto Gonzalez; 43. Psychoanalytic poetics Reena Sastri; 44. Asian American poetry Joseph Jonghyun Jeon; 45. American poetry of the 1980s: the pressures of reality Lisa M. Steinman; 46. Black and blues configurations: contemporary African American poetry Walton Muyumba; 47. Amy Clampitt, 'culture' poetry, and the neo-baroque Willard Spiegelman; 48. Modern and contemporary children's poetry Joseph Thomas; 49. Multilingualism in contemporary American poetry Juliana Spahr; 50. American poetry at the end of the millennium Stephen Burt.
'... a physically imposing fifty-chapter book, consisting of more than 1300 densely packed pages and weighing almost four pounds. But this rather daunting volume turns out to be not just an essential addition to any serious poetry library but an exciting and absorbing reconceptualization of American poetry ... The History has a lot of possible uses. Individual chapters could be very helpfully assigned to students in American literature classes. It will make a valuable reference work for when you suddenly need to figure out who the Connecticut Wits were. Scholars will find new ideas in the chapters dealing with their areas of expertise (or at least I did in Robin Schulze's discussion of Marianne Moore's cosmopolitanism). The book's greatest value, however, is in providing a series of orientations - detailed but manageable - to fifty different permutations of American poetry. For readers with the time, it is enormously satisfying to read it cover to cover: even the most knowledgeable reader will gain insight into the richness, variety, and surprising harmony of American poetry.' Rachel Trousdale, Twentieth-Century Literature '... all a student would need to gain working knowledge of American poetry through the end of the last millennium. ... Those looking for a roundup of the best late twentieth- and early twenty-first-century literary criticism on American poetry will find more gathered here than in any other single volume.' Elisa New, Modern Philology 'Celebrated teachers as well as critics, Bendixen and Burt position themselves as knowledgeable enthusiasts, not as kingmakers or gatekeepers, in order to bring to poetry a vital curiosity ... Burt and Bendixen imagine their field in full 3D: as a set of intersecting planes, formed by means of poetic affinities, identities, and unexpected resemblances.' Walt Hunter, Essays in Criticism
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