Voice(s) of the people: The aesthetics and politics of voice in American literature of the 1930s
Crotser, Jeremiah Val
MetadataShow full item record
Voice(s) of the People: The Aesthetics and Politics of Voice in American Literature of the 1930s analyzes the trope of voice in the writing of Muriel Rukeyser, Tillie Olsen, Richard Wright and William Faulkner. Through an extended analysis of this trope, I reorient the discussion about the place of thirties writing in the canon of American literature more broadly. Specifically, I challenge the notion that the politically motivated tenor of much thirties writing comes at the expense of a sophisticated aesthetics. A sophisticated aesthetics in this literature develops, I argue, in part because of a dual concern with the politically charged notion of the "voice of the people" and the modernist experimentation with poetic and narrative voice. Voice is both political and aesthetic for the writers represented here. By tracing the experimental uses of voice in Rukeyser, Olsen and Wright, I show that these writers sought not to replace literary considerations with political ones, but instead to probe the boundary thought to separate political and aesthetic considerations in literary writing. Later, I turn to Faulkner to show how even in the works of a writer whose aesthetic sophistication remains unquestioned, the trope of voice becomes a site of political meaning.