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The Cambridge Companion to Modern American Poetry comprises original essays by eighteen distinguished scholars. It offers a critical overview of major and emerging American poets of the twentieth century, in addition to critical accounts of the representative schools, movements, regional settings, archival resources, and critical reception that define modern American poetry. The Companion stretches the narrow term of 'literary modernism' - which encompasses works published from approximately 1890 to 1945 - to include a more capacious and usable account of American poetry's evolution from the twentieth century to the present. The essays collected here seek to account for modern American verse against the contexts of broad political, social, and cultural fields and forces. This volume gathers together major voices that represent the best in contemporary critical approaches and methods.
The Cambridge Companion to American Modernism provides a comprehensive and authoritative overview of American literary modernism from 1890 to 1939. These original essays by twelve distinguished scholars of international reputation offer critical overviews of the major genres, literary culture, and social contexts that define the current state of Modern American literature and cultural studies. Among the diverse topics covered are nationalism, race, gender and the impact of music and visual arts on literary modernism, as well as overviews of the achievements of American modernism in fiction, poetry and drama. The book concludes with a chapter on modern American criticism. An essential reference guide to the field, the Companion offers readers a chronology of key events and publication dates covering the first half of the twentieth century in the United States, and a bibliography of further reading organized by chapter topics.
Slightly ahead of his time, Walt Whitman welcomed the new energies of American modernism with his 1876 poem “To a Locomotive in Winter.” In it, he hailed the steam engine as “type of the modern - emblem of motion and power - pulse of the continent.” Only seven years earlier at Promontory Summit, Utah, the Union Pacific and Central Pacific Railroads were linked by a golden spike driven into the final tie of the nation's first transcontinental rail network. Dynamic, transformative, and “unpent,” modernism's new social, cultural, and technological economies of scale would rapidly remap space, time, and distance in ways that were heretofore unimaginable. Such accelerating velocities of change would increasingly define the quickened “pulse of the continent.” Soon, American modernism would exceed the parochial limits of nation formation in the global reach of its imagined community. Such was the pace of modernization that by 1880 the steam locomotive would be eclipsed by Thomas Edison's demonstration of the electric train in Menlo Park, New Jersey. Two decades later, Harvard professor Henry Adams would be so awed by the giant electromagnetic dynamos on display at the Great Exposition of 1900 that he would “see only an absolute fiat in electricity” defining the modern age. Reflecting on the major scientific advances of the 1890s such as Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen’s discovery of X-rays, Edouard Branly’s and Guglielmo Marconi’s experiments with radio waves, Marie Curie’s detection of radium in pitchblende, Adams “wrapped himself in vibrations and rays which were new, and he would have hugged Marconi and Branly had he met them, as he hugged the dynamo” (381). Extending Whitman’s celebration of the “unpent” forces mobilized in modernism’s newer technologies, Adams’s fascination with the “supersensual world” of fin de siécle science described a modern world outlook defined by “Multiplicity, Diversity, Complexity, Anarchy, Chaos” (455).