full name / name of organization:
Appreciating (?) Nineteenth-Century American Poetry (01/25/06; ALA)
A number of recent works have aimed to recover nineteenth-century American
women’s poetry; a few studies have also given renewed attention to male
poets of the period. Although these works have been informed by various
approaches (feminist, nationalist, print culture, and literary historical),
most grapple initially with a single question: how should one assign
literary value to this material? Each scholar ultimately either answers
this question for him- or herself, or chooses to set it aside.
Aesthetic considerations have long been officially banished or suspect in
both the New Critical style of poetry criticism and in politically engaged
criticism. In response, a growing number of theorists in cultural and
literary studies have begun to reconsider the definitions and roles of
aesthetics. Similarly, the recovery of nineteenth-century American poetry
seems ripe for discussion along the lines of Tompkins’ influential
formulation on the “cultural work” of sentimental fiction.
“Appreciation”, in its multiple senses of apprehending aesthetic features,
increasing in (economic) value, and the historical (and currently rejected)
method for reading poetry, constitutes a rubric under which to group a
reconsideration of questions of literary value. We propose a roundtable
discussion at the American Literature Association Conference 2006, composed
of 5 or more scholars interested in questions of value and
nineteenth-century American poetry, including, but not limited to, some of
What values inform our selections for critical study, editions, and
What is a “good” poet, and what use do we have for “goodness”?
Can we recovery period-specific aesthetic systems of understanding poetry
(i.e., contemporary reading practices, reception, generic conventions)?
What are the challenges to “appreciating” nineteenth-century poetry? What
are the dangers?
Send 200-word proposals for an 8-minute paper to mw2w_at_virginia.edu by
January 25, 2006.
Department of English
University of Virginia
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or write Jennifer Higginbotham: higginbj_at_english.upenn.edu
Received on Tue Jan 10 2006 - 09:32:52 EST