From Outlaw to Classic
Canons in American Poetry
Publication Year: 1995
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.
Published by: University of Wisconsin Press
Download PDF (22.2 KB)
Download PDF (80.3 KB)
The completion of any book depends on various forms of support, and I now face the pleasant task of acknowledging that. I have been helped considerably by grants from the Universities of Mississippi and Louisville, and by my respective departmental chairs at those institutions, Evans Harrington and Bob Miller. I am grateful also to those who have...
Download PDF (337.7 KB)
In the Peanuts cartoon on my desk, Sally says to Charlie Brown, "We've been reading poems in school, but I never understand any of them ... How am I supposed to know which poems to like?" Charlie's reply: "Somebody tells you." This book, then, is about who has told and tells grounds they have done and do so; and about who and what gets left...
1. A History of American Poetry Anthologies
Download PDF (2.9 MB)
In Kinds of Literature, Alastair Fowler distinguishes three main kinds of literary canon: the potential, the accessible, and the selective (213-16). He defines the potential canon as consisting of all extant literature, all the literature that, simply because it exists, any reader could potentially read. By the accessible canon, Fowler means that part...
2. Poets Canonizing Poets: John Berryman's "Homage to Mistress Bradtreet"
Download PDF (2.2 MB)
This book is occupied with proposing certain (local and partial) answers to the global questions "Who makes canons in American poetry, and how?" I am concerned mainly to provide historical accounts of specific canonizing forces: anthologies, magazines, critical practice. But at a more general level, it can be said that two models or schools of thought...
3. The New Criticism and American Poetry in the Academy
Download PDF (3.4 MB)
As my preceding discussion of institutional theorists suggests, much recent work on canons holds the academy to be a crucial force in canon formation in this century. This is especially so in poetry, given the fact that the academy is the main (though not the only) site for the consumption and production of poetry, given the dominance of poetry...
4. Little Magazines and Alternative Canons: The Example of Origin
Download PDF (2.3 MB)
When the little magazine Trace compiled its first annual listing of magazines published in English in 1952, it rounded up 182 (Anderson and Kinzie 739). In contrast, by one 1987 estimate there were around 5,000 little magazines being published in the United States, varying widely, as such magazines always have, in size, quality, goal, editorial stance,...
5. "Provisionally complicit resistance": Language Writing and the Institution(s) of Poetry
Download PDF (2.0 MB)
Through much of this study I have assumed that the university has become the central (though not the only) canon-making institution in contemporary American poetry. This situation follows partly from the professionalization of poetry criticism described in Chapter 3, and from the resulting split, represented in the establishment of creative...
Download PDF (3.0 MB)
Download PDF (1.5 MB)
Download PDF (875.0 KB)
Publication Year: 1995