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Conclusion My study has traced the circulation of ideas about geography in late nineteenth - and early twentieth-century American culture, a span of time marked by a shift from the cosmological geography of European geography well known in nineteenth-century America to the rise of environmental determinist geography in the early twentieth. Although these were two distinct and very different stages, they each adopted in their own way a global orientation and outlook. For Humboldt and Somerville, this meant demonstrating a divinely planned global oneness in which all things are connected and harmoniously ordered. For Semple and Huntington and their middlebrow magazine environmentalist counterparts, the ostensible task was to define the influencing conditions of the geographic environment in particular regions or cultures in the quest for a newly scientific disciplinary model of geography. Implicitly, however , environmental determinist methods depended upon generating global comparisons of local-to-local, national-to-national, or continent-to-continent units, irrespective of geographical propinquity. The global American poetry that I feature here adopts similar methods of comparison as it engages with geographical ideas about the human-landscape equation. Whitman, Hughes, Stein, and H.D., however, take these ideas and methods further. In drawing together disparate global geographies on the space of the page, “presencing” them in new spatial configurations if you will, they each generate a space-collapsing geopoetics that brings into being new transnational and transcultural attachments enabled by these geographical traditions. As the geopoetics of this archive of global American poetry tests the aesthetic and political limits of the day, it also speaks back to geography’s fundamental assumptions, undermin- 148 | TheGeopoeticsofModernism ing the teleological master narratives of environmental determinism as well as the ontological fixity of the institutionalized geographic project. What I have traced, then, is a broad and dynamic conversation about geography and the nature of communal affiliation to which geographers, magazine writers, and modernist poets contributed. In various ways, these three groups weighed in on the nature of the relationship between human populations and the geographic environment, on scientific and aesthetic approaches to space, and on how culture, nation, empire, and race might be conceived or reconceived. Key to mapping geopoetic formations in these ways is the shared use of formal parataxis to generate the variety of geographical and geopolitical reimaginings I have traced here: for Whitman and Hughes, anaphoric parataxis produces cosmological oneness and a centrality for African diasporic experience, respectively; for Stein, parataxis of syntactic units of language complicates models of nation; for H.D., montage complicates both nation and empire. In reading formal parataxis as performing both geographical and geopolitical work, my project reformulates several familiar ideas about experimental modernism . First, it takes the largely formal notion of “spatial form” generated by Joseph Frank and considers it through a historicized and geopolitical lens. As many modernists may recall, Frank viewed spatial form—that is, an embrace of simultaneity in the act of meaning-making rather than sequence—as the formal disruption of time and narrative. But rather than operate mainly as a formal experiment with epistemology or hermeneutics, we can recognize that spatial form can have direct cultural, national, and/or racial consequences for identity and affiliation, rather than function only to disrupt other formal dimensions of meaning-making.1 Indeed, the contradictory geopolitics I identify in Stein and H.D. complicate the binary structures of national exceptionalism and imperialism and orientalism traditionally conceived that assume that culturally dominant forces are total and monolithic in their exercise of representational power over the other. The layered and uneven geopolitics that Stein and H.D. ultimately produce also help to dislodge lingering critical commonplaces that still tend to assume avant-garde modernism’s aesthetic insularity. The kind of attention in this project to representations of geography in the contexts of dominant geographical epistemologies of the period also deepens our appreciation of the ideological and formal continuities between Harlem Renaissance and Anglo-American modernist texts, cultural and aesthetic formations whoseinterconnectionshavebeentracedwithincreasingfrequencybutnot,to date, with the robustness they deserve.2 In the case of Hughes, it creates a more visible place for poetry within narrative-heavy models of the African diaspora Conclusion | 149 and a more expansive internationalist frame for thinking about Hughes’s career and affiliations before his so-called radical period of the 1930s.3 The intertwined nature of geographical epistemologies and geopoetic practices comes into view when tracing the disciplinary circulations of geography in an American context, a historicizing sort of attention to geography that American Studies scholars have...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780813055145
Related ISBN
9780813060514
MARC Record
OCLC
900158401
Pages
208
Launched on MUSE
2015-02-13
Language
English
Open Access
No
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