Skip navigation
Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:
Title: Critics and Connoisseurs: Poet-Critics and the Administration of Modernism
Authors: Kindley, Evan
Advisors: Stewart, Susan
Contributors: English Department
Keywords: Administration
Subjects: Literature
Issue Date: 2012
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: <italic>Critics and Connoisseurs</italic> is a reconsideration of the seminal figure of the modernist poet-critic. In a series of case studies of the poet-critics T.S. Eliot, Marianne Moore, Sterling A. Brown, and R.P. Blackmur, I examine the relation that pertains between critical and poetic writing with a particular emphasis on the process of self-explanation and justification. Modernist poet-critics, in my view, are distinct from the poet-critics of earlier literary eras to the degree that they align themselves with bureaucratic institutions, from the university and the little magazine to the philanthropic foundation and the state. This led to new and unprecedented interrelationships between literary and cultural criticism and bureaucratic administration and between the practice and explanation of literature. These are institutional inheritances that creative writers and humanist scholars still live with today. In my introduction, I consider the importance of the poet-critic to modernism in the light of the figure's long history, ultimately claiming that the originality of the modernist poet-critic is to be found in their relationship to administration and to bureaucratic institutions. My chapter on T.S. Eliot reconstructs the case made for the poet as critic in the late 1910s and early 1920s and points to its basis in an "artistic critique" of society that Eliot inherits from nineteenth-century Continental poet-critics like Baudelaire. The second chapter deals with Marianne Moore's reluctance to participate in a culture of critical agonism and her recourse to a non-agonistic administrative role within the established modernist institution of the little magazine (specifically, as managing editor of <italic>The Dial</italic>). The third chapter, on Sterling A. Brown, brings both race and the state into the discussion by examining Brown's work as "Editor of Negro Affairs" for the Federal Writers' Project in the 1930s; this is followed by a discussion of an ambitious philanthropic project undertaken by the poet-critic R.P. Blackmur in the immediate postwar period to support little magazines. Finally, in an epilogue, I briefly consider the importance of the poet-critic to the evolution of the postwar university, with reference to the disciplines of creative writing and literary study.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:English

Files in This Item:
File Description SizeFormat 
Kindley_princeton_0181D_10399.pdf455.33 kBAdobe PDFView/Download

Items in Dataspace are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.