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Title:Lines of Feeling: Modernist Women's Poetry and the Limits of Sentimentality
Author(s):Girard, Melissa
Director of Research:Nelson, Cary
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Nelson, Cary
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Esty, Jed; Foote, Stephanie; Somerville, Siobhan B.
Department / Program:English
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Abstract:Modernist sentimental poetry is frequently cast as an unfortunate literary and cultural mistake. In an era defined by its novel feats of poetic ambition, modernist sentimental poetry seems inexplicably to regress to the familiar forms and feelings of the nineteenth century. Alongside the modernist proliferation of “new” poetic forms, modernist sentimental poetry has thus been seen as decidedly “old”: an atavistic remnant of an earlier time and place, out of sync with high modernism’s progressive aesthetic vision. This is a foundational rift, which continues to divide the field of poetic modernism. Poets like T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, and H.D. are routinely credited with formal theories of poetic innovation. In stark contrast, the so-called “sentimental” poets who comprise this study, figures such as Edna St. Vincent Millay, Sara Teasdale, Genevieve Taggard, and Louise Bogan, have been categorized as conventional lyric poets. Critics have believed, wrongly, that their poetry is coextensive with the aesthetic and political aims of nineteenth-century sentimentality. Through a series of detailed textual and historical readings, “Lines of Feeling” demonstrates that this diverse group of modernist women poets reinvented the traditional form of the sentimental lyric in response to modernity. In so doing, they competed directly with the avant-garde to redefine the proper form and function of modernism.
Issue Date:2010-01-06
Rights Information:Copyright 2009 Melissa Girard
Date Available in IDEALS:2010-01-06
Date Deposited:December 2

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