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Title: The emerging social sciences and editorial practice in poetry and the crisis in the early twentieth century
Author: Cole, Jennifer
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2018
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This thesis seeks to demonstrate the ways in which the emerging social sciences influenced literary constructions of racial and national identity in American poetry at the turn of the twentieth century. Using methodologies derived from the fields of literature and science and periodical studies, along with an underlying theoretical framework adapted from Pierre Bourdieu's work on fields of production, I argue that the dominant approaches to ideas of race and culture in the fields of anthropology and sociology directly shaped the ways in which poetry was curated for the public by the editors of two influential magazines: Poetry under the editorship of Harriet Monroe, and The Crisis under the editorship of W.E.B. Du Bois. Chapter One examines the cultural contexts which fostered the availability and popularity of science as a source of authority deployable in other fields in the early twentieth century. To differing extents, both Monroe and Du Bois specifically sought to sway their respective audiences by strategically substituting a form of borrowed scientific capital for the cultural capital they initially lacked. Chapter Two traces the development of institutionalized anthropology in the United States and Harriet Monroe's deployment of anthropological materials and authority to build a specifically American poetic tradition within and beyond the pages of Poetry that would minimize its indebtedness to European verse. This chapter is supported by original archival research which reveals Monroe's preoccupation with Native American cultures as a revitalizing resource for American poetry, and includes examinations of poetry by Carl Sandburg, Mary Austin, Alice Corbin Henderson, and Vachel Lindsay. Finally, Chapter Three explores the poetry and editorial material printed in The Crisis and the ways in which they reflect Du Bois's attempts to combine strategies from contemporary sociology and anthropology in order to establish the validity and authenticity of African American identity and culture. This chapter draws on analyses of writings by Jessie Fauset, Countee Cullen, James Weldon Johnson, Georgia Douglas Johnson, Fenton Johnson, and Langston Hughes to demonstrate the ways in which the poetry of black writers was deployed in and actively participated in scientific debates surrounding race in turn-of-the-twentieth-century America.
Supervisor: Whitworth, Michael Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: American Literature ; Literature and Science ; Periodicals ; W.E.B. Du Bois ; Harriet Monroe