Rhythm and Race in Modernist Poetry and Science

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2008-01-01
  • Publisher: Columbia Univ Pr

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In the half-century between 1890 and 1950, a variety of fields and disciplines, from musicology and literary studies to biology, psychology, genetics, and eugenics, expressed a profound interest in the subject of rhythm. In this book, Michael Golston recovers much of the work done in this area and situates it in the society, politics, and culture of the Modernist period. He then filters selected Modernist poems through this archive to demonstrate that innovations in prosody, form, and subject matter are based on a largely forgotten ideology of rhythm and that beneath Modernist prosody is a science and an accompanying technology. In his analysis, Golston first examines psychological and physiological experiments that purportedly proved that races responded differently to rhythmic stimuli. He then demonstrates how poets like Ezra Pound, W. B. Yeats, Mina Loy, and William Carlos Williams either absorbed or echoed the information in these studies, using it to hone the innovative edge of Modernist practice and fundamentally alter the way poetry was written. Golston performs close readings of canonical texts such as Pound's Cantos, Yeats's "Lake Isle of Innisfree," and William Carlos Williams's Paterson, and examines the role the sciences of rhythm played in racist discourses and fascist political thinking in the years leading up to World War II. Recovering obscure texts written in France, Germany, England, and America, Golston argues that "Rhythmics" was instrumental in generating an international modern art and should become a major consideration in our reading of reactionary avant-garde poetry.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrationsp. xi
Acknowledgmentsp. xiii
Introduction: Phonoscopic Modernismp. 1
Thaddeus Bolton and the Omnipresence of Rhythmp. 12
Mapping Rhythmic Bodiesp. 19
Rhythm, Blood, Pulse, Heredityp. 26
Rhythm, Nation, Racep. 29
Nietzsche, Wagner, Spengler, Jungp. 34
Rhythm and/as Political Ideology: Germany in the 1930sp. 40
Rhythm and Constructing the Fascist Subjectp. 42
Summaryp. 43
Rhythmics in Modernist Poeticsp. 47
Racial Origins of Prosodyp. 54
Pulsanda Tellus: Ezra Pound's Absolutist Rhythmsp. 59
The Root of the Matterp. 59
Invisible Motorsp. 64
Pisan Symmetriesp. 73
The Dancer and the Corpusp. 79
We Who Have Passed Over Lethep. 87
Double Registrations in the River of Bloodp. 100
Primalitiesp. 103
Amphibious Centaursp. 107
Rivers of Bloodp. 111
A Sort of Eugenic Paganismp. 123
Ripples, Spirals, Fat Lines: Rhythmical Hormoniesp. 128
Inaudible Codes: Structuring the Corporate Textp. 137
Codifying Political Bodiesp. 138
Machining Convictions: W.B. Yeats's Sanguineous Rhythmsp. 146
"The subject of which I am most ignorant"p. 146
Monotonous Firep. 149
The Bull and the Nightingalep. 152
Haunting the Edge of Trancep. 155
Ancient Saltp. 158
Those Images That Waken in the Bloodp. 164
Singing the Crisis Itselfp. 269
Cinematic Reversals; or, the Ghost of Abel in the Whale's Bellyp. 172
Bad Breath and Ghost Limbsp. 177
Agents of Intensity Unrocking to a Pulsep. 182
Auguries of the Inaudible: Strange Hearts and Wing Beatsp. 184
What Magic Drum? The Rhythms of Mummies, Vampires, Centaurs, and Butterfliesp. 193
Alexander and the Books of Prosodyp. 202
Williams's Measured Interventionsp. 208
Measuring the Weather with Euclid and Einsteinp. 211
Angelic Cubes and Cubist Angelsp. 216
Notesp. 225
Bibliographyp. 255
Indexp. 267
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