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“Nothing Done!”: The Poet in Early Nineteenth-Century American Culture

Descriptive

Name (type = personal)
NamePart (type = family)
Anderson
NamePart (type = given)
Jill E.
DisplayForm
Jill E. Anderson
Role
RoleTerm (authority = RULIB)
author
Name (type = personal)
NamePart (type = family)
Lears
NamePart (type = given)
Jackson
NamePart (type = termsOfAddress)
Dr.
Affiliation
Director
DisplayForm
Jackson Lears
Role
RoleTerm (authority = RULIB); (type = text)
chair
TypeOfResource
Text
TitleInfo
Title
“Nothing Done!”: The Poet in Early Nineteenth-Century American Culture
Language
LanguageTerm (authority = ISO 639-3:2007)
English
Genre (authority = marcgt)
thesis
Abstract (type = abstract)
In this dissertation, I argue that early nineteenth-century American poets’ and readers’ interpretations of Romanticism shaped their understanding of the role poetry and its producers could play in a developing national culture. By examining the public careers and private sentiments of four male poets — William Cullen Bryant, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Edgar Allan Poe, and Jones Very — I analyze how each reconciled poetic vocation with the moral and economic obligations associated with the attainment of manhood. I locate these poets and their critics within specific historical discourses of aesthetic reception and production, focusing on the tensions and overlaps between Scottish Common-sense and Romantic aesthetic thought. Finally, I suggest that as a career objective the production of poetry paralleled rather than opposed the middle-class project of the “self-made man.” The effortful self-mastery urged upon young men by prescriptive writers was echoed in critics’ assessments of American poets’ works. Both the male poet and the self-made man operated within discourses which stressed imperatives — do, be, act — without specific objects. Yet, for aspiring poets, Romantic emphases on spontaneous composition and emotional expressiveness made deliberate craftsmanship irrelevant to poetic production. By identifying poetic production as spontaneous and as the highest form of disinterested intellectual labor, antebellum American critics and poets alike obscured the actual work involved in poetry writing. This erasure of conscious literary labor separated effort from its products, replacing a poet’s personal motives for writing poetry with the more nebulous goal of service, to be achieved through evidently inspired transcription than through purposeful composition. The title ‘poet’ suggested devotion to higher, more abstract goals, above mere commodity production. Each of these poets’ careers show how ambition compelled aspiring American poets to justify their work while disclaiming their individual hopes for their poetry and their reputations. Each poet promoted an understanding of poetic labor that demanded just such disclaimers. By underscoring the insubstantial and all but effortless nature of poetic composition itself, all four of these poets contributed to an enfeebled definition of the male poet — as a man who received impressions rather than produced them, and who observed rather than acted.
PhysicalDescription
Form (authority = gmd)
electronic resource
Extent
309 p.
InternetMediaType
application/pdf
Note (type = degree)
Ph.D.
Note (type = bibliography)
Includes bibliographical references (p. 289-307)
Note (type = statement of responsibility)
by Jill E. Anderson
Subject (authority = RUETD)
Topic
History
Subject (authority = ETD-LCSH)
Topic
Poetry
Subject (authority = ETD-LCSH)
Topic
United States--Social life and customs--19th century
Name (type = corporate)
NamePart
Rutgers University
DisplayForm
Rutgers University
Role
RoleTerm (authority = marcrelator); (type = text)
Degree grantor
Name (type = corporate)
NamePart
Graduate School - New Brunswick
OriginInfo
DateCreated (encoding = w3cdtf); (keyDate = yes); (qualifier = exact)
2000
DateOther (encoding = w3cdtf); (keyDate = no); (qualifier = exact); (type = degree)
2000-10
Location
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NjNbRU
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TitleInfo
Title
Graduate School - New Brunswick Electronic Theses and Dissertations
Identifier (type = local)
rucore19991600001
Identifier (type = doi)
doi:10.7282/T3ZK5DST
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Rights

RightsDeclaration (AUTHORITY = GS); (ID = rulibRdec0006)
The author owns the copyright to this work
Copyright
Status
Copyright protected
Availability
Status
Open
RightsEvent
Type
Permission or license
Label
Non-exclusive ETD license
AssociatedObject
Type
License
Name
Author Agreement License
Detail
I hereby grant to the Rutgers University Libraries and to my school the non-exclusive right to archive, reproduce and distribute my thesis or dissertation, in whole or in part, and/or my abstract, in whole or in part, in and from an electronic format, subject to the release date subsequently stipulated in this submittal form and approved by my school. I represent and stipulate that the thesis or dissertation and its abstract are my original work, that they do not infringe or violate any rights of others, and that I make these grants as the sole owner of the rights to my thesis or dissertation and its abstract. I represent that I have obtained written permissions, when necessary, from the owner(s) of each third party copyrighted matter to be included in my thesis or dissertation and will supply copies of such upon request by my school. I acknowledge that RU ETD and my school will not distribute my thesis or dissertation or its abstract if, in their reasonable judgment, they believe all such rights have not been secured. I acknowledge that I retain ownership rights to the copyright of my work. I also retain the right to use all or part of this thesis or dissertation in future works, such as articles or books.
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Technical

RULTechMD (ID = TECHNICAL1)
ContentModel
ETD
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