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Although no real institutionalization of intersectional studies as such has yet taken place, the habit of thinking in terms of intersectional identities has established itself fully across multiple fields—from critical race theory to gender studies and queer studies as well as in sociological and legal studies. Steinman looks at some of the ways that intersectional studies have informed literary critical practice, including studies that focus on Wallace Stevens’s own identity (in terms of gender, race, and class) and on the figures enabled and occluded by his poetic imagination. Describing how previous critical work that addressed race, class, or gender in Stevens’s poetry might be refigured in light of the perspectives intersectional studies have brought to critical attention, Steinman offers, as an example of the merits and drawbacks of reading Stevens intersectionally, a discussion of “The Virgin Carrying a Lantern.” She sets this against an account of how many contemporary writers of color respond more to Stevens’s style than to his representations of others, voicing an ambivalence that repositions their work and Stevens’s work within African American literary tradition; Steinman suggests that such voices might open new possibilities for intersectional studies of Stevens.
A common way to characterize the shift from modern to contemporary American poetry is as a turn from sweeping, impersonal myths and symbols to more locally grounded, experiential stories and images. Science and technology are often grouped together, but their roles in contemporary poetry are quite distinct, particularly so now that technology has begun to change the ways in which poems are written, circulated, and read. This chapter provides a historical overview of poetry's engagement with science. In the early twentieth century, poets began to embrace science more whole heartedly, often drawing parallels between the work of major discoverers like Marie Curie and Albert Einstein and the literary innovations being carried out under the banner of modernism. A.R. Ammons insists on the equal validity of prayer and cell, soul and chemistry. Frederick Seidel has ventured into the complexities of modern physics than most of his peers, particularly in The Cosmos Poems.
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