A Useful Art: Essays and Radio Scripts on American Design

Overview

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 These previously unpublished essays and radio scripts are scrupulously researched...
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Overview

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 These previously unpublished essays and radio scripts are scrupulously researched investigations of various American handicrafts: the topics they cover include ironwork, tin ware,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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Editorial Reviews

From The Critics
"This final volume in the series expands the basic design of this major poet's work very usefully."
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Product Details

Meet the Author

LOUIS ZUKOFSKY (1904-1978) is widely considered one of the primary forerunners of contemporary avant-garde writing. His many books include “A,” Prepositions +, and A Test of Poetry. KENNETH SHERWOOD is Assistant Professor of English at the University of Texas at the Permian Basin. JOHN TAGGART is Professor Emeritus of Literature and Creative Writing at Shippensberg State University, and the author of When the Saints (2000).
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Table of Contents

PART ONE: ESSAYS
American Ironwork (1585-1856) - Old World Traditions - Iron Districts - Ironworking and Ironwork (1645-1790) - The Ironwork - Ironwork and Ironmasters
Chalkware [September 1938]
American Tin Ware [January 1939] - Manufacture - Unpainted Tin and It’s Workers - Toleware
American Kitchen - The Setting - The Wares

PART TWO: RADIO SCRIPTS AND RESEARCH NOTES
Radio Scripts
The Henry Clay Figurehead
American Tinsmiths
A Pair of New York water Pitchers
Binnacle Figure - 1851
“Wide Awake” Lantern and Eagle
Duncan Phyfe
Remmey and Crolius Stonewre
The Caswell Carpet
Friendship Quills
Cotton Historical Prints

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