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A Useful Art (Paperback)

P&S History > Social Science & Culture

Imprint: Wesleyan University Press
Pages: 264
Illustrations: 8 illus.
ISBN: 9780819566409
Published: 9th July 2003
Casemate UK Academic



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A Useful Art is an invaluable chronicle of a major American poet's engagement with this country's indigenous tradition of design. In 1936, the Federal Arts Project (a division of the WPA) hired Louis Zukofsky, along with many others, to prepare a compendium of information on traditional American crafts. The Index of American Design aimed to define original U.S. culture at a time when interest in handicrafts had just begun to emerge. These previously unpublished essays and radio scripts are scrupulously researched investigations of various American handicrafts: the topics they cover include ironwork, tin ware, furniture maker Duncan Phyfe and friendship quilts. They also reflect Zukofsky's sense of the poem as a crafted object and his attempt to reconcile the labor theory of value with aesthetic production. This book, which can be seen in the context of kindred work by William Carlos William (In the American Grain) and Ezra Pound (Guide to Kulchur), will be of special interest to readers of 20th-century poetry, cultural critics, social historians, and scholars of design.

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