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American Passages: A Literary SurveyUnit IndexAmerican Passages Home
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5. Masculine Heroes   

13. Southern Renaissance

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Activities: Author Activities

John Crowe Ransom - Author Questions

Back Back to John Crowe Ransom Activities
  1. Comprehension: What is "Janet Waking" about? Summarize the "events" the poem describes.

  2. Context: As he contributed to the development of the New Criticism, Ransom argued that "criticism must become more scientific, or precise and systematic." Yet, in the 1920s, as a member of the Southern Agrarians, Ransom had denounced the increasing influence of modern science and the rationalization of human life. Why do you think Ransom eventually came to advocate a "scientific method" of literary criticism?

  3. Exploration: As a writer of modern lyric poetry, Ransom argued that poetry could provide an alternative to science as a source of knowledge in the modern world. One of Ransom's contemporaries, T. S. Eliot, has been praised for writing poetry that challenges the authority of science and the value of its achievements. Yet Eliot (whom Ransom admired) depicted the world much differently in his poems than did Ransom. Compare Eliot's "The Hollow Men" with Ransom's "Philomela." If you consider each poem as an attempt to challenge the authority of science, what different strategies do these writers use to accomplish a similar goal?

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