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The Degenerate MuseAmerican Nature, Modernist Poetry, and the Problem of Cultural Hygiene$
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Robin G. Schulze

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199920327

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199920327.001.0001

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. Marianne Moore, Nature, and National Health

. Marianne Moore, Nature, and National Health

(p.205) 5. Marianne Moore, Nature, and National Health
The Degenerate Muse

Robin G. Schulze

Oxford University Press

In 1920, Marianne Moore began her long and profitable relationship with Scofield Thayer and Sibley Watson’s magazine, TheDial. Her connection with the cosmopolitan periodical that published a wide range of modernist texts by European authors led her to think deeply about the relative healthfulness of American and European cultural productions. Like Pound, Moore worried about the potential eugenic threats to America’s cultural development that following in rarefied European footsteps might carry. Several of Moore’s most important poems of the 1920s, including “New York” and “People’s Surroundings,” draw directly on discourses about degeneration in order to critique European sophistication and champion forms of American art and culture that manage to stay close to nature. For the sake of the nation’s health, Moore concluded that American art needed to remain rustic even while it became civilized and in touch with the outdoors even while it headed in.

Keywords:   Marianne Moore, poetry, degeneration, health, american, culture, nature, sophistication, “New York”, “people’s Surroundings”

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