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|“WATCH IT CLOSELY”: THE POETRY AND POETICS OF AESTHETIC FOCUS IN THE NEW CRITICISM AND MIDDLE GENERATION
Robert Penn Warren
|Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
|Through three discrete yet historically, thematically, and methodologically related essays, “Watch it closely”: The Poetry and Poetics of Aesthetic Focus in The New Criticism and Middle Generation investigates how midcentury American poetry and poetics embrace an ideal of concentration on an aesthetic artifact not by simply manifesting such a singular focus but by producing or attesting to the relational scaffolding and bracketing that attend it, effectuate it, but also adumbrate what lies outside it. Chapter One is a reception study that illuminates the way Cleanth Brooks and Robert Penn Warren’s pedagogy and theory carefully frame the poetry and persona of Robert Frost—playing to his popularity to broaden their audience but refocusing attention on particular literary techniques and ideas most responsive to their critical interests. Chapter Two is a study of literary influence, exploring the way Elizabeth Bishop’s poems that focus on a single object quietly reconcile modernist aesthetics and the Romantic poetry against which they were a reaction. Chapter Three is a study of poetry as autocriticism, arguing that Richard Wilbur’s oft-cited wariness of metaphor is actually an occasion to produce more metaphor—the poet turns his attention on the poem in progress, critiquing the metaphoric figuration underway, and uses that critique to generate still more metaphor. A short coda looks at all three chapters in retrospect to tease out the way they suggest a potential direction for future work on the most influential representation of aesthetic focus in midcentury poetics: close reading.
|The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog: catalog.princeton.edu
|Type of Material:
|Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
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