La scolarisation du poète américain, de Longfellow à Dickinson

Abstract : Commenting on the delayed recognition of American literature by the American university, this article dwells on the efforts displayed by academic critics at the beginning of the twentieth century to make American poetry a respectable and serious area of study by dissociating it from the childishness with which it had been read at school. Studying the ways in which both educational sites framed the importance of American poets, this article looks at the roles played by Longfellow at the end of the XIXth century and Dickinson at the beginning of the XXth as they each enabled the institutions which promoted them. Authorizing the very discourses in which they were valued, the canonical status of these poets is linked to the « pedagogical persona » they were made to play, so that their institutionnalization really depended on how they were « schooled », be it by playing the part of the instructed or the instructor. This pedagogical role-playing remains crucial even within the newly-founded academic criticism, which strives to promote its expertise by demoting the immature responses which American literature had solicited in the past. The paradoxes which this entails are fully revealed when looking at Allen Tate’s criticism on Dickinson, where the poet’s infantilization denotes the ongoing influence of amateur appreciations of her work, even while the author’s call for a New Criticism would revoke them.
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Hélène Cottet. La scolarisation du poète américain, de Longfellow à Dickinson. L'Atelier, Presses universitaires Paris Ouest, 2015. ⟨hal-01696359⟩

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