Poetry in the Expanded Field


Charles A. Ryskamp Research Fellowships


English and American Literature


This project reexamines American poetry after 1945 through the lens of everyday aesthetic concepts. Though "cute," "zany," and "interesting" are common to the vocabulary we use to describe contemporary aesthetic experiences, these concepts have remained marginal to aesthetic theory for two main reasons: first, in owing their origins to commodity culture rather than nature or fine art; second, in being based on affects more ambivalent or weaker in intensity than the unequivocal feelings of pleasure and displeasure that ground the beautiful and sublime. Through readings of a wide range of authors, this study argues that minor aesthetic concepts are crucial for understanding American poetry as a genre increasingly preoccupied with its own cultural "minorness" in an era of high-tech media spectacle.