Asian American Poetry and the Politics of Form

Comparative Literature Luncheon Series
Apr 20, 2015
12:15 PM to 01:30 PM
102 Kern

Dorothy Wang, Williams College

Poetry studies—and literary studies more generally—have relegated Asian American poetry to tertiary status: as minority writing that lacks the pizazz of “real” minority literature and as poetic work that cannot be countenanced as “real” poetry. Asian American poetry functions as “identity” poetry, a side dish offering at a multicultural literary food court. The long history (over 130 years old) and wide formal spectrum of this body of writing are simply unknown to the great majority of poetry critics. To what extent does this ignorance reflect an unwillingness to think about the racial occlusions at the heart of our study of American poetry? How do insights into critical attitudes towards Asian American poetry—a category that links the most exalted literary genre and the most non-native of American English speakers—yield a glimpse into unexamined assumptions about English-language poetry and about fundamental poetic categories and concepts?

This lecture is part of the Comparative Literature Luncheon Series.

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