The Gospel of Beauty in the Progressive Era: Reforming by L. Szefel

By L. Szefel

Within the wings of histories concerning the innovative period and literary modernism stands a cohort of people who promoted reform by means of popularizing poetry, operating backstage to create an institutional infrastructure to help authors who addressed the issues of up to date existence. during this engagingly written and punctiliously researched publication, Lisa Szefel brings to middle level the tale of those editors, anthologists, critics, and writers who believed that poetry examining facilitated self-knowledge and social justice. positioned among the genteel culture and the avant garde, they associated creativity to ethical legal responsibility and, in doing so, refashioned American values and verse.

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Extra resources for The Gospel of Beauty in the Progressive Era: Reforming American Verse and Values (Palgrave Studies in Cultural and Intellectual History)

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The two individuals at the forefront of founding the PSA and addressing those questions, Viereck and Jessie B. Rittenhouse, had careers in journalism as well as in poetry. From that vantage, both saw the importance of mobilizing poets to deal with the changes in print production and to pool their resources to interact with the market, publishers, booksellers, and readers. The PSA’s eclectic mixture of conservatives, innovators, and fanatics showcases the inadequacy of analysis that divides participants into highbrow, lowbrow, or even middlebrow, or their products into strict categories of sentimental or modernist.

Later in the century, Matthew Arnold provided assurances that “more and more mankind will discover that we have to turn to poetry to interpret life for us, to console us, to sustain us. ”28 To connect knowledge, morality, and ideal perfection, both poetry and science were needed. Still, members of the genteel community felt compelled to justify their convictions about the worth and value of poetry. They did so by highlighting the similarities between both endeavors. ”29 While Stedman admitted his chagrin with the “superb optimism of our scientific brethren” who marched ahead confidently making material discoveries about nature’s secrets, he celebrated the complementary nature of the two disciplines.

50 While tales about Greenwich Village bohemians and avant-garde poets who assailed bourgeois conventions and the story of literary modernism is well-known, the stories of more traditional-minded readers, authors, editors, and institution builders remain untold. Scattered in memoirs, unpublished letters, and biographies of minor poets are details about those individuals who influenced cultural production by creating new forums, engaging general readers, and mediating between old and new. I readjust the historical lens to capture these previously overlooked players; those who figured only in the footnotes of literary history now take center stage.

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