Edna Millay, Muriel Rukeyser, and Adrienne Rich: political poetry, social protest, and the place of the woman writer

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This paper will analyze primarily the impact of Edna St. Vincent Millay’s political writing on Adrienne Rich, and address the relationship between Millay and Muriel Rukeyser. Through close examination of these women’s concept of the ‘political’ poet, as well as their attitudes toward socially conscious writing, I will try to show that Millay’s influence extends to areas that have repeatedly been bypassed (or approached only superfi- cially), and argue that the earlier poet played an instrumental role in the formation of the younger artist’s social consciousness. By evaluating the range and degree of Millay’s influence, I will also demonstrate that the earlier poet was among those figures who helped Adrienne Rich to both crystallize her views regarding ‘proper’ literary models and argue for a female tradition that would recognize the importance of versatility and experimentation practised by writers such as Millay.

Keywords: American Literature; American Studies; Cultural studies; Edna Millay; Political Poetry; Women's writing

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1386/ejac.22.1.7/0

Affiliations: IST, Athens

Publication date: March 1, 2003

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  • The European Journal of American Culture (EJAC) is an academic, refereed journal for scholars, academics and students from many disciplines with a common involvement in the interdisciplinary study of America and American culture, drawing on a variety of approaches and encompassing the whole evolution of the country.
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