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Broadcasting Modernism$
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Debra Rae Cohen, Michael Coyle, and Jane Lewty

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780813033495

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813033495.001.0001

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Materializing Millay

Materializing Millay

The 1930s Radio Broadcasts

(p.238) Chapter 13 Materializing Millay
Broadcasting Modernism

Lesley Wheeler

University Press of Florida

This chapter begins with an account of Edna St. Vincent Millay's on-air reading series, placing it in two contexts: the early history of broadcasting, and her own performance practices during enormously popular reading tours. Millay's broadcasts occur at an important juncture in radio history in the United States; their timing strongly inflects their meaning. Her radio work also harmonizes with recent scholarship on poetry readings and recordings, in particular the relation between performed and printed poems. The second and third parts of this chapter discuss the relationship between the audiotexts and printed versions of the poems Millay selected for one recorded broadcast. The analysis here focuses on two concerns shared by these pieces and magnified by her style of delivery: tropes of sound and presence; and, more briefly, Millay's engagement with the idea of “naturalness”.

Keywords:   Edna St. Vincent Millay, poetry readings, reading tours, broadcasting, audiotexts

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