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Critical RhythmThe Poetics of a Literary Life Form$
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Ben Glaser and Jonathan Culler

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780823282043

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823282043.001.0001

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The Cadence of Consent: Francis Barton Gummere, Lyric Rhythm, and White Poetics

The Cadence of Consent: Francis Barton Gummere, Lyric Rhythm, and White Poetics

Chapter:
(p.87) The Cadence of Consent: Francis Barton Gummere, Lyric Rhythm, and White Poetics
Source:
Critical Rhythm
Author(s):

Virginia Jackson

Publisher:
Fordham University Press
DOI:10.5422/fordham/9780823282043.003.0005

In American poetics, lyric and rhythm share a history—and since this is America, it is a racialized history. This essay considers Francis Barton Gummere’s contributions to that history. Although most Anglo-American literary critics have never heard of Gummere, many of the assumptions of that criticism were first articulated by him between 1891 and 1911. By returning to Gummere’s now historically obscure logic, we might begin to trace the overdetermined origins of current critical versions of lyric rhythm as natural culture and to imagine an alternative history of American poetics, a history of the poetics of rhythm not modeled on naturalized (and thus racialized) concepts of culture, on English prosody, or on common sense; an alternative that acknowledges the contradictions of any notion of a shared Anglo-American rhythm or shared Anglo-American poetry, a history in which the idea of rhythm remains central, but central as symptom rather than central as solution.

Keywords:   genre, historical poetics, imagined community, lyric, race

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