Emancipating Pragmatism: Emerson, Jazz, and Experimental Writing

By Michael Magee | Go to book overview
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“No teacher ever taught, that has so provided for his pupil's setting up independently.” Whitman said this of Emerson; I say it of Lisa New. This project began one day in a graduate seminar when, after I had delivered a short presentation on Emerson, Lisa casually suggested that I “save those pages” for my dissertation. I had no intention of writing any more about Emerson, but the seed was planted. When Emerson finally took center stage, Lisa alternately indulged and guided me as I prodded the unlikeliest of characters into dialogue with the Concord sage and, for good measure, moved his scenes from the study to the streets.

Bob Perelman and Herman Beavers were just as influential to the casting. Bob is almost wholly responsible for introducing me to the world of experimental poetry. His stunning range as a scholar was a vital model as I crossed centuries and genres under the sign of pragmatism; his _chooltence that a certain amount of historicist rigor was necessary if such crossings were to be more than whimsical had a pervasive effect on the writing. In Herman Beavers I had a prominent Ellison scholar and poet to both encourage me and guide me around the pitfalls of my integrationist approach. Al Filreis and Farah Griffin have also been there from the beginning, reading work at various stages, making timely suggestions, and otherwise providing help and advice too numerous to mention. Last among my mentors I count Jean-Michel Rabate, without whose help I would not have had the privilege of studying at Penn, and Robert Cording, without whose inspiration I never would have applied.

The fingerprints of some dear friends are all over these chapters. John


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Emancipating Pragmatism: Emerson, Jazz, and Experimental Writing


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