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The Poetry of Female Radicalism in Depression-Era America

Veitch, Karen ORCID: (2012) The Poetry of Female Radicalism in Depression-Era America. PhD thesis, University of Sussex.

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This thesis examines womens’ poetry of the radical Left and organised labour movement of the Depression-Era United States and investigates the relationship between poetry and politics during this period. In so doing, it shows that women poets were concerned with precisely that problem: of poetry’s political function. The work of individual poets and the acts of collective cultural production explored in this thesis articulate a radical, politically transformative poetics at a time when the continued existence of poetry was perceived to be under threat from scientific advance and wider cultural changes.

Juxtaposing analysis of Left modernist poets with poets of the labour movement, the chapters focus on three individual poets including Muriel Rukeyser (1913-1980), Genevieve Taggard (1894-1948) and Miriam Tane (1916-2007). To provide an understanding of the role of poetry within a specific political movement and to establish the context in which Tane’s poetry was produced, two chapters are included which analyse the educational culture and the collective cultural production of the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union. One chapter focuses on the history of the ILGWU’s educational and cultural activities and the other analyses collections of poetry which the union produced.

This thesis challenges the existing paradigm in which the study of American radical Left and labour poetry has been isolated from any broader enquiry about its relationship to class, American political history and also to literary modernism. This thesis advances two main arguments: that the poets considered in this thesis conceived of poetry as a politically transformative force; that these politically transformative understandings of poetry were rooted in in an engagement with the ideological and material contexts of the social movements to which these writers belonged.

Furthermore, this thesis considers poetry in terms of the material context of its publication, and the political uses to which it was put.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information:

The full-text of the online published article can be accessed via the official URL

Uncontrolled Discrete Keywords: poetry, female radicalism, depression-era America, United States, modernism, modernist, working-class poetry, ILGWU, trade unions, labor history, labour history, women's poetry, 1930s, Muriel Rukeyser, Genevieve Taggard, workers poetry, Willard Gibbs
Subjects: E History America > E151 United States (General)
P Language and Literature > PS American literature
Divisions: Central Services > Library Services
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Karen Veitch
Date Deposited: 19 Feb 2020 09:59
Last Modified: 17 Jun 2020 17:34

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