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Grant number like: FA-56110-11

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Virginia W. Jackson
Tufts University (Somerville, MA 02144-2401)

Fellowships for University Teachers
Research Programs

$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
8/1/2011 – 7/31/2012

Before Modernism: 19th-Century American Poetry in Public

I propose to complete a book on nineteenth-century American historical poetics. For reasons of its own, the twentieth century told a tall tale about poetry and poetics in the U.S. before 1900. Once upon a time, the Puritans struggled to articulate their own vision against that of Old England; once upon a time, the new nation strove to emerge into versified existence; once upon a time, a renaissance of Romantic ambition sprang from the head of Emerson, and its twins, Whitman and Dickinson, gave a queer birth to the new American poetry. Although many scholars have begun to recognize what is wrong with the last century's version of U.S. literary history, we have yet to tell a different story. Before Modernism will tell a story as yet untold, a story not only about the history of American poetry but about the ideas of poetry and its publics we have inherited from the nineteenth century.