Show Less
Restricted access

A Passion for Getting It Right

Essays and Appreciations in Honor of Michael J. Colacurcio’s 50 Years of Teaching

Edited By Carol M. Bensick

For 50 years Michael J. Colacurcio has been a leader in the criticism of early and antebellum American literature. In The Province of Piety, New Essays on The Scarlet Letter, Doctrine and Difference, and Godly Letters, as well as editions and often-reprinted reviews and essays, Dr. Colacurcio has continued to defend a rare vision of the political and intellectual depth of America’s serious fiction and the aesthetic power and charm of its religious poetry and prose. In light of many honors such as the Book of the Year Award from the Conference of Christianity and Literature and election in 2007 to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, UCLA raised him to the rank of Distinguished Professor. Yet for all his dedication to research, his students know him as an unforgettable teacher, who has continued to win several teaching awards at both Cornell and UCLA. The present volume aspires to celebrate Dr. Colacurcio’s 50 years of transformative teaching through an exciting bounty of original and classic essays by some of his most talented students and eminent colleagues from his very first years at Cornell up to and including his current students at UCLA.
Show Summary Details
Restricted access

Sea Changes in the American Crisis Poem from Walt Whitman to Campbell McGrath



In 2008, contemporary poet Campbell McGrath addressed the tragedy of the World Trade Center attacks in his poem “September 11.” Throughout his career McGrath has been a relentless experimenter, as the form of his volume Seven Notebooks (in which “September 11” appeared) amply attests. However, in keeping with his de facto role as “the Bard of America,” he grounded “September 11” firmly within a tradition, one extending back to Whitman and Emerson and incorporating almost every important American poet from the middle of the nineteenth century to our own time.

That tradition, “the American crisis poem,” was originally defined by Paul Fussell in 1962 and his observations were later reinforced by the powerful voice of Harold Bloom.1 My own study redefines that tradition and explores in detail one strand of it. The key feature that distinguishes it from the virtually innumerable texts in all genres that reflect a crisis is that the poems in this tradition integrally incorporate a body of water and draw upon the rich and complex symbolic associations of water to express the crisis and/or its resolution.2 My focus here is on those poems involving drowning and its dual and opposed manifestations as death in purely negative forms and literal or symbolic “death” leading to transformation, rebirth and renewal.

Key originary texts for this paradigm include Canto XXVI of Dante’s Inferno, Ariel’s song “Full Fathom Five” in The Tempest, and Milton’s “Lycidas.” Dante’s text represents the...

You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.

This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.

Do you have any questions? Contact us.

Or login to access all content.