Josephine Park

Andrew W. Mellon Penn Faculty Fellow in the Humanities

20052006 Forum on Word and Image

Josephine Park

Assistant Professor, English

Apparitions of Asia: Modernism's American Orient

The visibility of the Orient in the first part of the 20th century was a crucial force in the emergence of high modernist poetry. The uniquely visual register of Chinese writing dramatically influenced the way in which English could be broken and refashioned within a new poetry whose aim was a revolutionary visibility. The willingness of modernists to break the rules of the line in poetry in English indicates a new structure of intimacy between America and the Far East. In this way, American poetry responded to a tranquil vision that imagined America and Asia together. 


Asserting that American modernity is inseparable from an appreciation of East Asia, Prof. Park considers the legacy of Ernest Fenollosa's American Orient in American poetry at three key historical moments in the twentieth century: Ezra Pound's famous obsession with Tang Dynasty poetry in the 1910s, his later interest in Confucian historiography in the late 1930s, and following Pound, Gary Snyder's mid-century turn to Buddhism. Dr Park expects that the fabled harmony between word and image in the ideogram, formulated in Fenollosa's singular study of Chinese writing, will provide a useful model for considering this transpacific intimacy that spanned the 20th century.