Marianne Moore

Annotated Bibliography for Biography Project on Marianne Moore

by Abbey Corcoran

 Secondary Sources:

Hadas, Pamela White. “Marianne Moore: Poet of Affection.” Contemporary Literary Criticism Select, Gale, 2008. Literature Resource Center. Accessed 15 Sept. 2017. Originally published in Syracuse University Press, 1977. In Pamela White Hadas’s article “Marianne Moore: Poet of Affection,” Hadas surveys Moore’s poetry and, comes to the conclusion that “there are two predilections pervading and informing Marianne Moore’s work at every level […] [one] is poetic wonder, the need for a near-magical communication with the objects and objectives of nature, and the other is a detached curiosity which demands precise and intelligent observation of these” (3). She argues that it important to understand how these predilections break down (“subjective enchantment” and “objective devotion”) into the particular conventions that we recognize, critically or casually, as the stylistics of Marianne Moore (3). She then argues that the stylistic breakdown can be further decomposed into four themes: survival, persuasion, discovery, and selfhood. This text is certainly credible because of its engagement with other secondary sources and primary sources and the fact that Hadas (a poet herself) is an expert on Moore, having written an entire book of criticism on her work (of which, the is an excerpt). However, this essay is a critical source and, thus, it is limited in value to our biographical endeavors. That being said, where its analysis may not be particularly valuable for biography, the sense of Moore’s poetics, style, and literary universe it gives us is invaluable in reconstructing Moore’s life.

URL for Hadas:

Hicok, Bethany. “To Work ‘Lovingly’: Marianne Moore at Bryn Mawr, 1905-1909.” Journal of Modern Literature, 2000, p. 483. Literature Resource Center. Bethany Hicok’s essay “To Work Lovingly” delves into a study of Marianne Moore’s time at Bryn Mawr College through a multi-faceted analysis of primary and secondary sources. At the center of this analysis is her argument that “inquiry into Moore’s experience at Bryn Mawr provides a fruitful starting point for new readings of Moore’s poetry that emphasize her strong feminist voice and offer ways in which we might reconsider the cultural history of women’s poetic production” (483). Through analysis of Moore’s letter and poems, Hicok identifies a new feminist rhetoric in Moore’s writing, which she ultimately attributes to Moore’s time at Bryn Mawr. The essay’s combination of close reading (especially of Moore’s letters, which do not get as much attention in other sources) and rich biographical evidence indicates that this source is well-researched and well-suited for this project.

URL for Hicok:

Kent, Kathryn R. Making Girls into Women: American Women’s Writing and the Rise of Lesbian Identity. Durham N.C., Duke University Press, 2003. In this text as a whole, Kent argues that “intense maternal-pedagogical system that compelled young girls to internalize the mandates of bourgeois womanhood, ended up inciting in them other, less-normative desires and identifications” (2). It is, however, not until chapters five and six (two connected essays) that Kent makes this argument using Marianne Moore’s poetry and, thus, it is those chapters I will focus on here and in my research. In these two final chapters, Kent describes the desires and relationship of Marianne Moore and her mentee Elizabeth Bishop and, explores the development of their respective subjectivities within that relationship. In this way, Kent argues that “their interactions pose a challenge to the use by feminist literary critics of the mother/daughter relationship as the dominant model for female-female ‘literary influence’ and for understandings of the emergence of female gender and sexual identity” (169). Kent bases her argument on close readings of “their literary and persona exchanges, including the intertextualities of their poems [and] the richness of their letters” and knowledge of the dominant theories of gender and sexuality (169). Because of the deftness of Kent’s use of textual evidence and the fact that Making Girls into Women was published by a reputable company for the subjects of gender and sexuality (Duke and NYU are well-known in the field of GSS), it is pretty clear that the text is a credible (and interesting) source.

Miller, Cristanne. Cultures of Modernism: Marianne Moore, Mina Loy, & Else Lasker-Schüler: Gender and Literary Community in New York and Berlin. Ann Arbor, University of Michigan Press, 2005. In this scholarly monograph, Cristanne Miller makes the argument that location had a significant influence on “modernist women’s performances of subjectivity, gender, race and religion in their texts” by making new subject matter and “modes of expression” available to them” (2). The text uses the works and lives of Marianne Moore, Else Lasker-Schüler and Mina Loy as case studies though which it posits that “modernist cultures take distinctive and distinctively gendered forms from one place to another” (2). Organized thematically by chapter (rather than writer), the text moves from the “representations of modernity” as foundational background to discussing the politics of naming (particularly self-naming) and the identities the three women constructed for themselves (particularly in relation to “breaking normative gender”). It goes on to examine the “semiotics of performed embodiment” in fashion and finally the role of religion in modernism (18-19). Miller’s inclusion of photographs and illustrations of and by Moore, Lasker-Schüler, and Loy (147-149) in conjunction with her extensive footnotes, bibliography, and employment of several different modes of analysis (close reading, engaging with theory, biographical analysis etc.) indicates Cultures of Modernism is a credible and valuable source.

Nitchie, George W. “Marianne Moore: An Introduction to the Poetry.” Contemporary Literary Criticism Select, Gale, 2008. Literature Resource Center. Accessed 15 Sept. 2017. Originally published in Marianne Moore: An Introduction to the Poetry, by George W. Nitchie, Columbia University Press, 1969. A few paragraphs into his essay, “Marianne Moore: An Introduction to the Poetry” George Nitchie begins to describe what he calls the “peculiarities” of Moore’s poetry. But he quickly posits that as a half-truth, claiming that those particulaties are no different (or less) in effect than the peculiarities of Eliot or Dickenson. He then goes on to say, “to place Miss Moore among such poets is, in kind if not always in degree, to place her among her peers—among poets of formidable intelligence, formidable wit, and formidable eccentricity, poets who characteristically achieve their effects through surprise and the strategic violation of decorum” (1). In simpler terms, Nitchie argues that the difficulty of Moore’s poems, rather than precluding her from falling amounts the canonized great poets, elevates her to their level. He does this by engaging in close readings but also by setting her work in stylistic and thematic contrast with well-known writers, like Shakespeare and Milton and proving her deftness in relation to their greatness. The one downfall of this source is that it is an excerpt, so it is possible that arguments and nuances that a reader might understand from reading the entire text are lost or absent from this bit of it. However, ultimately there is still an argument contained in the excerpt and, the brevity is probably more conducive to the kind of knowledge of her work needed for a biography project anyway.

URL for Nitchie:                                                                                            

Sielke, Sabine. Fashioning the Female Subject: The Intertextual Networking of Dickinson, Moore, and Rich. Ann Arbor, University of Michigan Press, 1997. Through analysis of the poetry of Emily Dickinson, Marianne Moore, and Adrianne Rich, Fashioning the Female Subject demonstrates “how American women’s poetry fashioned the female subject and how they evolve her historically as a negotiation of subjectivity, identity, and the body as a process of present and past over the last 150 years” (2). The text is broken into four sections—one focusing on Moore and Dickinson, one on Moore and Rich, a section that ties together Rich and Dickinson through the lens of their “conversations”—for Sabine purports to “let the poets ‘talk’ to one another intertextually”—with Moore (2), and a final section where Sabine concludes and argues for her definition of female subjectivity as an “act in language” (228). Because the text is well cited, published by a reputable company, and centralizes Moore, it will be useful (and reliable) in helping me to be able to understand not only Moore’s biography but also the biography of her poems and how she lives on intertextually.

*For the Nitchie and Hadas, since they are excerpts reprinted in literary journals, I could not find the original page numbers and, as such, the page numbers here are the page numbers on the printed documents.


Tertiary Sources:  




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