Making extensive use of archival materials by Sylvia Plath, John Berryman, and Anne Sexton, Amanda Golden reframes the relationship between modernism and midcentury poetry. While Golden situates her book among other materialist histories of modernism, she moves beyond the examination of published works to address poets’ annotations in their personal copies of modernist texts. A consideration of the dynamics of literary influence, Annotating Modernism analyzes the teaching strategies of midcentury poets and the ways they read modernists like T. S. Eliot, James Joyce, Ezra Pound, Virginia Woolf, and W. B. Yeats. Situated within a larger rethinking of modernism, Golden’s study illustrates the role of midcentury poets in shaping modernist discourse.
Amanda Golden is Associate Professor of English at the New York Institute of Technology.
Modernism was made to be annotated. Amanda Golden shows how it was made by being annotated---in the hands of midcentury moderns who encountered and then taught Joyce, Eliot, and the rest, in college. Opening doors on the classrooms, faculty offices, and personal libraries of Plath, Berryman, and Sexton, this attentive, innovative, and surprisingly lively book shows that the marginal is central to the story of modernism in postwar America.
- Langdon Hammer, Niel Gray, Jr. Professor of English, Yale University
Amanda Golden’s meticulously researched Annotating Modernism broadens not only our understanding of midcentury poetry’s relationship to modernism, but our understanding of literary influence itself. By focusing on the "untapped resources" of midcentury poets’ marginalia on modernist works, and their teaching notes on modernist authors, Golden makes a compelling case that modernism is an ongoing social and literary construction, both contested and promoted by the academy and the midcentury poets—Plath, Hughes, Sexton, and Berryman—who taught within it. This is a timely and necessary study that brings materialist discourse and theories of influence together in original and innovative ways.
- Heather Clark, University of Huddersfield, author of Red Comet: The Short Life and Blazing Art of Sylvia Plath (Knopf, 2020)