Being Different: Strategies of Distinction and Twentieth-Century American Poetic Avant-Gardes

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Pierre Bourdieu defines the literary field as a social microcosm shaped by permanent struggles over recognition and prestige. As a consequence, being different from others in the field represents a social effect that results from the efforts made by agents to claim and defend their position and/or to mark off the position of other peers from their own. The present study explores strategies of distinction in the field of twentieth-century American poetry by tracing the means and meanings of nomenclatures. Drawing on as well as expanding Bourdieu's theoretical framework, this volume argues that nomenclatures can and should be understood as symbolic stakes in the conflict between twentieth-century poetic avant-gardes and the poetic establishment. Assembling a diverse corpus of metatexts, the book examines the ways in which nomenclatures (such as, for instance, the epithets 'experimental', 'new', and 'open') were strategically invested with distinctive, that is, conflicting and contradictory, meanings by opposing factions in the field of American poetry throughout the twentieth century.

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