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25. The Belated Tradition of Asian-American Modernism

Delia Konzett

Subject Literature » American Literature

Period 1000 - 1999 » 1900-1999

Key-Topics modernism, novel and novella

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631206873.2009.00028.x


While the first major Asian-American novels were still being written, the New Critics, a group of poets who were also English professors, were in the process of establishing its school as the dominant aesthetic paradigm of American modernism. In the post-World War II era, New Criticism would not only canonize high modernism, it would also, as Mark Morrisson writes, induce “the rise of university English departments and pedagogical anthologies as key sites of literary evaluation and canon formation” ( Morrisson 2005 : 28). Under the New Critics, notes Morrisson, the institution of the American university classroom (combined with that of the literary press) became the dominant way to establish aesthetic norms and a coexistent canon. Alternative modernisms, particularly that of the New Negro or Harlem Renaissance, were marginalized and obscured in the cultural administrative processes of the New Critics, and students in classrooms around the nation found themselves performing ahistorical and formal close analyses of exemplary poems by Eliot, Yeats, and Dickinson. And while the New Critics established a much-needed tradition of American modernism, their critical effort was still largely indebted to and following in the vein of a European modern literary tradition that emphasized formalist aesthetics. Since the 1980s, however, it has become abundantly clear that American modernism is ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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