Research Programs: Fellowships for College Teachers and Independent Scholars

Period of Performance

7/1/2009 - 12/31/2009

Funding Totals

$25,200.00 (approved)
$25,200.00 (awarded)

The Poetry Wars of the Early Republic

FAIN: FB-54205-09

Colin Peter James Wells
St. Olaf College (Northfield, MN 55057-1574)

During the period of the Revolution and the Early Republic (1765-1815), the best American poets engaged in literary "wars" against politicians, journalists, and each other, all in the name of deciding the future of the new nation. My current book project aims to reconstruct this episode, first, by recovering for modern readers the vast body of political verse produced in this period, and second, by analyzing the unique dynamic of "literary warfare" that characterizes the period--within which individual poems were written to combat or circumscribe the discursive content of other poems or texts. By analyzing these literary struggles, I argue, we can more fully understand the more complex development of "America" as a discursive entity during this important period of national formation.