Off the Shelf: R. Jahan Ramazani

R. Jahan Ramazani, Edgar F. Shannon Professor of Modern and Contemporary Poetry, Postcolonial Literature and outgoing chairman of the English department, "A Transnational Poetics." University of Chicago Press.

June 3, 2009 — In "A Transnational Poetics," University of Virginia English professor Jahan Ramazani uncovers the ocean-straddling energies of the poetic imagination – in modernism and the Harlem Renaissance; in post-World War II North America and the North Atlantic; and in ethnic American, postcolonial and black British writing. Cross-cultural exchange and influence are, he argues, among the chief engines of poetic development in the 20th and 21st centuries.

Reexamining the work of a wide array of poets, from European and American writers T.S. Eliot, W.B. Yeats, Langston Hughes and Elizabeth Bishop, to Jamaican writer and poet Lorna Goodison and Indian Muslim Agha Shahid Ali, Ramazani reveals the many ways in which modern and contemporary poetry in English overflows national borders and exceeds the scope of national literary paradigms.

Through a variety of transnational features – globalization, migration, travel, genre, influence, modernity, decolonization and diaspora – Ramazani discovers poetic connection and dialogue across nations. Exceptionally wide-ranging in scope yet rigorously focused on particulars, "A Transnational Poetics" demonstrates how poetic analysis can build an aesthetically attuned transnational literary criticism that is at the same time alert to modernity's global condition.