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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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PRINTED FROM COLUMBIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.columbia.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Minnesota Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CUPSO for personal use.date: 24 June 2021



Poetry and Popular Culture

(p.1) Introduction
Everyday Reading

Mike Chasar

Columbia University Press

This introductory chapter presents the book's rationale, which consists of several overarching theses. First, it argues that ordinary readers of poetry are more self-aware, perceptive, creative, and socially engaged than historians and literary critics have generally assumed. Ordinary readers were initially viewed as unreflective, affect-driven and often a female demographic, and misguided when it came to issues of taste and poetry's purpose in the world. It was not until Joseph Harrington's so-called “poetry wars” of the 1930s that the high and low perceptions of American poetry began to reform. Second, the poetry these ordinary readers consumed was in fact more aesthetically and culturally complex than mainstream literary histories. The third point states that the culture of popular verse was not self-sufficient but influenced the work of now-authoritative modernist writers, as well as the development of popular culture more broadly. The book's analysis is generally driven by the relationship between the commercially produced text and the reader.

Keywords:   ordinary readers, poetry wars, Joseph Harrington, American poetry, mainstream literature, popular culture

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