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How Did Poetry Survive?The Making of Modern American Verse$
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John Timberman Newcomb

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780252036798

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252036798.001.0001

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Volunteers of America, 1917

Volunteers of America, 1917

The Seven Arts and the Great War

(p.118) Chapter 5 Volunteers of America, 1917
How Did Poetry Survive?

John Timberman Newcomb

University of Illinois Press

This chapter examines the odyssey of the Seven Arts, led by its editor-in-chief, James Oppenheim, from naïve nationalism to radical dissent that ultimately led to its demise. It emphasizes the important role played in this project by verse texts and by “poetry” as a metaphor for national identity, as well as the far-reaching cultural impact of the New Verse movement. The Seven Arts's life can be divided into two halves: an initial phase of utopian cultural nationalism between November 1916 and March 1917, followed by a steadily intensifying oppositional phase between April and October. Defying conventional views of the modernist little magazine as a fugitive publication, the Seven Arts became an ideal destination for formally experimental American poetry owing to its amateur status. This chapter considers the impact of World War I on the Seven Arts and cites its demise as evidence of the limits and weaknesses of American free-speech traditions and the end of the utopian moment of early American modernism.

Keywords:   modernism, national identity, New Verse movement, Seven Arts, cultural nationalism, World War I, American poetry, James Oppenheim

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