Revolutionary Memory: Recovering the Poetry of the American Left, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Revolutionary Memory

Recovering the Poetry of the American Left, 1st Edition

By Cary Nelson


280 pages | 58 Color Illus.

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Revolutionary Memory is the most important book yet to be published about the vital tradition of leftwing American Poetry. As Cary Nelson shows, it is not only our image of the past but also our sense of the present and future that changes when we recover these revolutionary memories. Making a forceful case for political poetry as poetry, Nelson brings to bear his extraordinary knowledge of American poets, radical movements, and social struggles in order to bring out an undervalued strength in a literature often left at the canon's edge. Focused in part of the red decade of the 1930s, Revolutionary Memory revitalizes biographical criticism for writers on the margin and shows us for the first time how progressive poets fused their work into a powerful chorus of political voices. Richly detailed and beautifully illustrated with period engravings and woodcuts, Revolutionary Memory brings that chorus dramatically to life and set a cultural agenda for future work.


"Cary Nelson's Revolutionary Memory offers exhaustive scholarship of a genuinely lived kind, as personal interviews and rare artifacts of material poetic culture--texts marked up for performance, poems transcribed onto postcards home, scrapbook entries--reveal the meanings and uses of poetry in people's everyday lives and reflect this book's remarkable level of historical detail." -- American Literature

"Nelson's book is an important realization of the sort of literary archaeology that he called for in Repression and Recovery. It is particularly valuable in its sustained attention to the poetics, practice, context, influence, and achievement of the Depression generation of Left poets, placing (or replacing) those poets within longer and larger Left traditions." -- James Smethurst, University of Massachusetts in Amherst, Radical Teacher

About the Author

Cary Nelson is Jubilee Professor of English at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. He is the editor of the Anthology of Modern American Poetry (Oxford). He has co-authored or co-edited several books for Routledge, including Academic Keywords, Madrid 1937, and Cultural Studies.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Media Studies