C19 Poetry Goes Public!
Students in Professor Jay Grossman’s Winter 2018 English 397 Research Seminar celebrated the launch of their new website with cake and a party. The website, hosted on Northwestern’s Arch site, makes each of these student’s research papers accessible to anyone who has computer access to the web. And such a wide potential readership is appropriate, since readers with a variety of interests will want to learn more about what these students have discovered.
Each student’s research began with the recovery of a book of poetry published in the nineteenth-century United States from the Northwestern Library’s open stacks or from Special Collections, and proceeded to make every aspect of it the object of intensive study—from the paper to the binding to the cover to the illustrations to the book design to the publisher to the author to the book’s circulation and reception, and including all of the words and poems inside it. Each research paper thus exhibits what can be learned by attending not simply to the poems themselves, but also to the poetic forms and the book forms in which this poetry originally circulated. Bringing together cultural studies, studies in the history-of-the-book, American studies, literary studies—and in one case, x-ray fluorescence (XRF) testing to determine the properties of paper and ink—these papers, taken together, provide a window for thinking about the varied kinds of cultural work performed by poetry in the nineteenth-century United States.
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