Ecology of Modernism: American Environments and Avant-Garde Poetics (Modern and Contemporary Poetics)

Ecology of Modernism: American Environments and Avant-Garde Poetics (Modern and Contemporary Poetics)

By: Joshua Schuster (author), Hank Lazer (series_editor), Charles Bernstein (series_editor)Paperback

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The Ecology of Modernism explores the unexpected absence of an envi-ronmental ethic in American modernist and avant-garde poetics, given its keen concern with an ecological esthetic. Joshua Schuster explains why American modernism was never green.In The Ecology of Modernism, Joshua Schuster examines the rela-tionships of key modernist writers, poets, and musicians to nature, industrial development, and pollution. He posits that that the curious failure of modernist poets to develop an environmental ethnic was a deliberate choice and not an inadvertent omission.In his opening passage, Schuster boldly invokes lines from Walt Whit-man's "Crossing Brooklyn Ferry," which echo as a paean to pollution: "Burn high your fires, foundry chimneys! cast black shadows at night-fall!" Schuster labels this theme "regeneration through pollution" and demonstrates how this motif recurs in modernist compositions. This tolerance for, if not actual exultation of, the by-products of industri-alization hindered modernist American artists, writers, and musicians from embracing environmentalist agendas.Schuster provides specific case studies about Marianne Moore and her connection of fables with animal rights; Gertrude Stein and concepts of nature in her avant-garde poetics; early blues music and poetry and the issue of how environmental disasters (floods, droughts, pestilence) affected black farmers and artists in the American South; and John Cage, who extends the modernist avant-garde project formally but critiques it at the same time for failing to engage with ecology. A fas-cinating afterword about the role of oil modernist literary production rounds out this work.Schuster masterfully shines a light on the modernist interval between the writings of bucolic and nature-extolling Romantics and the emer-gence of a self-conscious green movement in the 1960s. This reward-ing work shows that the reticence of modernist poets in the face of resource depletion, pollution, animal rights, and other ecological traumas is highly significant.

About Author

Joshua Schuster is an assistant professor of English at the University of Western Ontario, USA.

Product Details

  • ISBN13: 9780817358297
  • Format: Paperback
  • Number Of Pages: 272
  • ID: 9780817358297
  • ISBN10: 0817358293

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