Poetry for historians

Or, W. H. Auden and history

by Carolyn Steedman

Description
This is a book about the conflict between history and poetry - and historians and poets - in Atlantic World society from the end of the seventeenth-century to the present day. Blending historiography and theory, it proceeds by asking: what is the point of poetry as far as historians are concerned? The focus is on W. H. Auden's Cold War-era history poems, but the book also looks at other poets from the seventeenth century onwards, providing original accounts of their poetic and historical educations. An important resource for those teaching undergraduate and postgraduate courses in historiography and history and theory, Poetry for historians will also be of relevance to courses on literature in society and the history of education. General readers will relate it to Steedman's Landscape for a Good Woman (1987) and Dust (2001), on account of its biographical and autobiographical insights into the way history operates in modern society.
Rights Information

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Endorsements

This book is about the long, convoluted relationship between poets and historians, poetry and history. Sometimes antagonistic, sometimes harmonious, this relationship has always been a kind of love story. Using the poetry of W. H. Auden as a lens, Carolyn Steedman examines developments in academic, public and popular history. In doing so, she provides a new 'history of History', encompassing history writing, historical thinking and history-in-society. Her ultimate aim is to shed light on the poetics of the very idea of 'history' itself, to challenge the philosophical assumptions that separate one field from the other and to reflect on the choices available, in different times and places, for 'telling what had been'. Readers of Steedman's influential Landscape for a Good Woman and Dust will find much to enjoy in Poetry for historians. The book will be useful in historiography and historical-methods classes at undergraduate and postgraduate level and for sociologists teaching 'literature in society'. At the same time, it will appeal to anyone interested in W. H. Auden, the history of education, the social history of twentieth-century Britain and the social uses of poetry and other literature. Steedman has always had in mind those readers, academic and otherwise, who 'don't see the point of poetry'. She hopes to make them laugh in order to see its point, historically and in other ways.

Reviews

This book is about the long, convoluted relationship between poets and historians, poetry and history. Sometimes antagonistic, sometimes harmonious, this relationship has always been a kind of love story. Using the poetry of W. H. Auden as a lens, Carolyn Steedman examines developments in academic, public and popular history. In doing so, she provides a new 'history of History', encompassing history writing, historical thinking and history-in-society. Her ultimate aim is to shed light on the poetics of the very idea of 'history' itself, to challenge the philosophical assumptions that separate one field from the other and to reflect on the choices available, in different times and places, for 'telling what had been'. Readers of Steedman's influential Landscape for a Good Woman and Dust will find much to enjoy in Poetry for historians. The book will be useful in historiography and historical-methods classes at undergraduate and postgraduate level and for sociologists teaching 'literature in society'. At the same time, it will appeal to anyone interested in W. H. Auden, the history of education, the social history of twentieth-century Britain and the social uses of poetry and other literature. Steedman has always had in mind those readers, academic and otherwise, who 'don't see the point of poetry'. She hopes to make them laugh in order to see its point, historically and in other ways.

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Bibliographic Information
  • Pub date: April 2018
  • 9781526125224 / 1526125226
  • United Kingdom
  • ePub
  • Manchester University Press
  • Readership: General/trade
  • Publish State: Published
  • Reference Code: 10278