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Spoon River AmericaEdgar Lee Masters and the Myth of the American Small Town$
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Jason Stacy

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9780252043833

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: January 2022

DOI: 10.5622/illinois/9780252043833.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM ILLINOIS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.illinois.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Illinois University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ISO for personal use.date: 26 June 2022

The Village Revolt

The Village Revolt

(p.114) Chapter 6 The Village Revolt
Spoon River America

Jason Stacy

University of Illinois Press

Chapter 6 traces Carl Van Doren’s claim in 1921 that Spoon River Anthology founded a literary “Revolt from the Village.” Van Doren argued that Midwestern authors inspired by Masters, such as Sherwood Anderson and Sinclair Lewis, formed a literary movement that exposed the hypocritical underside of the United States through a critique of small-town America. The dissemination of this argument can be traced to intellectuals like H. L. Mencken and Thorstein Veblen, who popularized Freudian theory as a way to critique bourgeois mores and American capitalism. However, other popular authors, like William Allen White, celebrated Midwestern towns as ideal communities as a counter to these critiques. Thus, in the 1920s, a short-lived culture war arose around rival interpretations of Masters’s portrayal of American small towns.

Keywords:   Spoon River Anthology, Edgar Lee Masters, Carl Van Doren, Sherwood Anderson, Sinclair Lewis, H. L. Mencken, Thorstein Veblen, Freudian theory, William Allen White, Midwestern towns, culture war

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