Date of Award

4-23-2014

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

English

First Advisor

Kenneth Sherwood, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Mike Sell, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Christopher Kuipers, Ph.D.

Abstract

This dissertation explores the case of Harry Crosby, modernist poet and publisher, whose neglect by modernist scholarship serves as an example of flaws and oversights in the process by which the dominant mainstream literary canon is constructed. The literary canon is not one body of work, but an intersection of several constituent canons that inform what scholars consider to be literature; scholarly neglect arises from several different variables within this complex interaction. A primary weakness in this process that has gone largely unexplored follows from assumptions grounded in material concerns surrounding the selection and publication process for literary anthologies: editors and publishers consider the extant publication status of an author or work to be a priori evidence of the subject's literary worth, when decisions concerning the logistics and expense of including a work may more readily be at the root of the exclusion. The neglect of Harry Crosby is but one example of how this process has erased significant figures from the greater narrative of literary scholarship. Crosby was vital to the "Lost Generation," both as a poet esteemed by those peers (many of whom were subsequently awarded canonical status themselves) and also as a patron who contributed to the success of works now considered essential modernist texts. However, Crosby was marginalized through a confluence of several factors: the scandal of his lifestyle and suicide, his embrace of a deliberately distancing and confounding poetic persona, and his eclectic experimental style of writing which defies easy classification. By establishing the grounds for Crosby's significance, both in his poetry and in his position within the modernist movement, and highlighting the parallels with similar poets reclaimed from neglect, this dissertation aims to bring Harry Crosby's work to the renewed attention of critics.

Share

COinS