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Poetry and the Transnational Migration of Form

Poetry and the Transnational Migration of Form

(p.117) Chapter 5 Poetry and the Transnational Migration of Form
Poetry in a Global Age
Jahan Ramazani
University of Chicago Press

One of the most pervasive models for “world” and “global” literature has been the formula foreign form and local content. New literature issues, it is said, from the introduction of a foreign form into a local environment. Perhaps the model’s preeminent proponent is Franco Moretti, who argues that it is a law of literary evolution. Similar views can be found in the work of other critics whose central concern is the European novel, such as Pascale Casanova. Perhaps surprisingly, the foreign form/local content paradigm plays a major role in loco-centric arguments that may seem to contradict it, such as those made by Kamau Brathwaite and some proponents of the decolonization of African literature. What do we learn about the model’s strengths and deficiencies when we bring it into contact with poetry? Does the idea of distant reading work for poetry? Critically reexamining the foreign form and local content model in relation to modernists such as Marianne Moore and postcolonial poets such as Daljit Nagra, this chapter seeks to develop alternative ways of conceptualizing poetry in its global dimensionality.

Keywords:   Franco Moretti, Pascale Casanova, foreign form, local content, poetic form, distant reading, Marianne Moore, Daljit Nagra, global, world literature

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