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The colonial moment : discoveries and settlements in modern American poetry /
Jeffrey W. Westover.
imprint
DeKalb : Northern Illinois University Press, c2004.
description
237 p.
ISBN
0875803253 (acid-free paper)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
DeKalb : Northern Illinois University Press, c2004.
isbn
0875803253 (acid-free paper)
catalogue key
5212456
 
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2005-03-01:
The literary criticism of postcolonial discourse often amounts to ideological polemic without much (if any) attention to the specifically literary nature or merit of the works it analyzes (literary merit not even being a functional concept in postcolonial criticism). Westover's volume is a rare and rewarding exception. Examining a handful of pertinent works by five major US poets (Marianne Moore, William Carlos Williams, Robert Frost, Hart Crane, Langston Hughes), Westover (Howard Univ.) traces their ambivalent conceptions (or conflicted "settlements") of the US's colonial heritage and its neocolonial emergence in the 20th century into global hegemony. Westover's fine close reading--and aesthetic evaluation--would do a formalist critic proud. Intricacies of image, trope, syntax, rhythm, sound, lineation, and feeling serve as the evidentiary body of cultural perspectives Westover discerns in the poems. Equally admirable is Westover's avoidance of the usual derivative tendentiousness associated with postcolonial criticism. His use of postcolonial theorist Homi Bhabha in constructing his conceptual framework is judicious, not slavish or subsuming, and he wisely integrates it with the more traditional cultural formulations of Waldo Frank, a critic contemporaneous to the poets under study. In short, Westover's study is as theoretically well informed and sensible as it is poetically sensitive. ^BSumming Up: Essential. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty and professionals. R. J. Cirasa Kean University
Reviews
Review Quotes
"A very useful and thought-provoking book."- South Atlantic Review "Westover's study is as theoretically well informed and sensible as it is poetically sensitive."- Choice " The Colonial Moment provides a persuasive portrait of several early modernist poets as sharing a tendency to mythologize and de-mythologize questions of nationality and origins in their poetic representations of their own age and values."- Modernism/Modernity
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, March 2005
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Summaries
Bowker Data Service Summary
'The Colonial Moment' examines the work of five early 20th century American poets, to show how they envisioned early American settlement. Westover demonstrates how they dramatised the process of nation-building, at a time when the US was finding a new identity as a world power.
Main Description
Explorers, colonists, native peoples-all played a role in early American settlement, and the legacy they left was a turbulent one. During the first three decades of the twentieth century, as the United States asserted itself as a world power, poets began to revisit this legacy and to create their own interpretations of national history. In The Colonial Moment , Jeffrey Westover shows how five major poets-Marianne Moore, William Carlos Williams, Robert Frost, Hart Crane, and Langston Hughes-drew from national conflicts to assess America's new role as world leader. Sensitive to the nation's memory of colonial brutality, these poets mingled their pride in America with moral protest against racism. Some identified a dark side to the nation's history, particularly in the conflicts between white pioneers and Native Americans, that haunted their otherwise confident celebrations of patriotism. Others used poetry as a vehicle of discovery to challenge existing historical accounts or to criticize the failures of American democracy. Investigating these five major writers in terms of their cultural and political moment, Westover demonstrates how they dramatized the process of nation-building. Colonization inevitably results in a sense of displacement. Each of these five poets struggled with such cultural alienation-especially those who belonged to a racial, sexual, or gender minority. They endeavored to unite their voices in a "vocabulary of the national," a search to define the concept of "we" that would encompass all modern readers while recognizing those whom previous generations had dismissed. In this way, each writer hoped to redeem the country's losses symbolically through language.
Unpaid Annotation
Explorers, colonists, native dwellers-all of these people played a role in early American settlement, and the legacy they left was a turbulent one. During the first three decades of the twentieth century, as the United States asserted itself as a world power, poets began to revisit this legacy and to create their own interpretations of national history. In The Colonial Moment, Jeffrey Westover shows how five major poets-Marianne Moore, William Carlos Williams, Robert Frost, Hart Crane, and Langston Hughes-drew from national conflicts to assess America's new role as leader of an empire. Sensitive to the nation's memory of colonial brutality, these poets mingled their pride in America with moral protest against racism. Some identified a dark side to the nation's history, particularly in the contrast between white pioneers and Native Americans, that haunted their otherwise confident celebrations of patriotism. Others used poetry as a vehicle of discovery to challenge existing historical accounts, or employed it to criticize the failures of American democracy. Investigating these five major writers in terms of their cultural and political moment, Westover demonstrates how they dramatized the process of nation-building. Colonization inevitably results in a sense of displacement. Each of these five poets clearly understood such cultural alienation-especially those who belonged to a racial, sexual, or gendered minority. Therefore, they sought to unite their voices in a "vocabulary of the national," a search to define the concept of "we" that would encompass all modern readers while recognizing those whom previous generations had dismissed. In this way, each writer hoped to redeem the country's losses symbolically through language.
Unpaid Annotation
Jeffrey Westover shows how five major poets - Marianne Moore, William Carlos Williams, Robert Frost, Hart Crane, and Langston Hughes - drew from national conflicts to assess America's new role as leader of an empire.
Table of Contents
Introduction : discoveries and settlements in modern American poetryp. 3
Marianne Moore's geography of originsp. 21
Nation and enunciation in the work of William Carlos Williamsp. 58
National forgetting and remembering in the poetry of Robert Frostp. 96
Empire and America in the poetry of Hart Cranep. 129
Fragmentation and diaspora in the work of Langston Hughesp. 168
Epilogue: "we the people" in an imperial republicp. 203
Table of Contents provided by Blackwell. All Rights Reserved.

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