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By A. Mikkelsen

Pastoral, Pragmatism, and Twentieth-Century American Poetry argues that pastoral has remained an important mode in smooth American poetry, frequently as a method of speaking approximately who the best self or poet could be and the way the poet suits into the bigger nationwide neighborhood. inspired by means of the paintings of William James and John Dewey, Ann Mikkelsen deftly argues that the “pragmatic pastoral” mode depicts a transitory, evolving, experimental country of being instead of a static, ironic, or nostalgic worldview. by way of re-evaluating relationships among the poet and the folk, the poem and existence adventure, this publication demonstrates that those pastorals mirror the moral dilemmas of a society in flux.

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Extra info for Pastoral, Pragmatism, and Twentieth-Century American Poetry (Modern and Contemporary Poetry and Poetics)

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By the time he decided against throwing himself into the murky waters, he found he didn’t have enough funds to make his way back home to Lawrence, Massachusetts. Assessing his situation, Frost embarked on a series of adventures that read, in retrospect, as if purloined from turn-of-the-century headlines and popular fiction about the menace of tramps, the unemployed and homeless men who haunted urban and rural America in the wake of the major depressions of the late nineteenth century. “Nearly out of money,” biographer Lawrence Thompson narrates, “Frost decided to try his luck at leaving Elizabeth City [N.

In Experience and Nature, Dewey outlines how language functions with regard to the individual. ” Failure to acknowledge this fact would lead to “the subjectivistic, solipsistic and egoistic strain in modern thought” (Experience, 173). indd 33 11/23/2010 9:12:41 PM 34 ● Pastoral, Pragmatism, American Poetry of language and society and all of the historical contingencies that shape each. Discourse, man’s means of shaping as well as being shaped by the world, is “both instrumental and consummatory,” something that leads to other modes of experience and something that is potentially fulfilling in and of itself (Experience, 183).

While the direct consequences of this historical embeddedness have not always been politically liberating for poets or those marginalized voices they have depicted, these new versions of American pastoral did function in the service of a belief that poetry should speak to power, and that it might even be heard. indd 20 11/23/2010 9:12:38 PM CHAPTER 1 Pastoral Ideology and the Pragmatic Response P ragmatic pastorals offer a poetic response to William James’s innovative perspective on subject/object relations and John Dewey’s efforts to connect the potential for democracy directly to issues of aesthetics and discourse.

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