What is the difference between the ''I'' of a poem--the lyric subject-- and the liberal subject of rights? Lyric and Liberalism in the Age of American Empire uses this question to re-examine the work of five major American poets, changing our understanding of their writing and the field of post-war American poetry. Through extended readings of the work of Elizabeth Bishop, Robert Lowell, Amiri Baraka, John Ashbery, and Jorie Graham, Hugh Foley shows how poets have imagined liberalism as a problem for poetry.Foley''s book offers a new approach to ongoing debates about the nature of lyric by demonstrating the entanglement of ideas about the lyric poem with the development of twentieth-century liberal discussions of individuality. Arguing that the nature of American empire in this period--underpinned by the discourse of individual rights--forced poets to reckon with this entanglement, it demonstrates how this reckoning helped to shape poetry in the post-war period. By tracing the ways a lyric poem performs personhood, and the ways that this person can be distinguished from the individual envisioned by post-war liberalism, Foley shows how each poet stages a critique of liberalism from inside the standpoint of ''lyric''. This book demonstrates the capacities of poetry for rethinking its own relation to history and politics, providing a new perspective on a vital era of American poetry.
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