The Emergence of American Formalism

Tenen, Dennis

The American Formalist archive presents compelling evidence for a movement concerned with the techniques of mass literary production. Contemporaneous and in some cases antecedent to European formalisms, the American school contributed to a significant expansion of letters, affecting both the theory and the practice of “industrial modernism.” In the arc of the book’s argument, the mass deployment of literary technique represents a significant early step toward the automation of creative labor. Mounting a concerted attack on the Romantic notion of authorship, the formalists advanced a program of teachable technique, by which habits of writing well-the good and the beautiful—could be distilled, refined, and transmitted to an emerging class of professional writers.


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Modern Philology

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Academic Units
English and Comparative Literature
Published Here
November 15, 2019