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Everyday ReadingPoetry and Popular Culture in Modern America$
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Mike Chasar

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780231158657

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231158657.001.0001

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The Spin Doctor

The Spin Doctor

(p.155) Chapter 4 The Spin Doctor
Everyday Reading

Mike Chasar

Columbia University Press

This chapter delves further into the idea that popular culture provides materials, resources, opportunities, and strategies for poets trying to conceptualize and write “modern” poetry by bringing together two discussions. One focuses on the relationships between popular literacy, technology, and the commercial landscape of twentieth-century America; the other seeks to understand poet William Carlos Williams' literary goal of capturing the commercial language of U.S. culture in his poetry. Williams' work leans towards the so-called “restless viewing;” he was pushed toward such viewpoint by the hours he spent driving, reading, and writing in his car while making house calls as a doctor. Engrossed in a landscape of competing billboards and other forms of outdoor advertising, Williams recognized the potential for linguistic interference at the heart of that “billboard discourse,” providing more evidence that modernism was rooted in popular culture.

Keywords:   popular literacy, technology, William Carlos Williams, U.S. commercial language, billboard discourse, outdoor advertising, modernism

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