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By Emily C. Bloom

Emily Bloom chronicles the emergence of the British Broadcasting company as an important promotional platform and aesthetic effect for Irish modernism from the Nineteen Thirties to the Sixties. She situates the works of W.B. Yeats, Elizabeth Bowen, Louis MacNeice, and Samuel Beckett within the context of the media environments that formed their works.

summary: Emily Bloom chronicles the emergence of the British Broadcasting company as an important promotional platform and aesthetic impression for Irish modernism from the Thirties to the Sixties. She situates the works of W.B. Yeats, Elizabeth Bowen, Louis MacNeice, and Samuel Beckett within the context of the media environments that formed their works

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In ‘ “Haunted to the Edge of Trance”: Performance and Orality in the Early Poems of W. B. Yeats’, Matthew Spangler describes the close relationship between composition and performance in Yeats’s work. He notes that Yeats incorporated dramatic and performative themes into his poetry and also used rhetorical figures drawn from oral literature such as ‘rhythmic repetitions, additive structuring, attenuated sentences, and deliberate syntactic ambiguities’ (Spangler 156). Spangler’s work, which identifies oral performance as a source rather than simply a vehicle for Yeats’s poetic compositions, references the radio broadcasts as part of Yeats’s performance history, but his study does not extend into an analysis of oral elements in Yeats’s late poetry.

W. B. Yeats’s Radiogenic Poetry 29 and Colton Johnson’s critical and editorial contributions to our understanding of Yeats’s broadcast career, I argue that radio played a pivotal role as a medium through which Yeats performed, publicized, and published poetry at the end of his life; moreover, I suggest that his interpretation of this new entity, the broadcast audience, was an active influence in shaping the auditory poetics of his late lyrics. 6 Focusing on radio poems such as ‘Roger Casement’, ‘Sweet Dancer’, and ‘The Curse of Cromwell’, this study reconnects Yeats’s late lyrics to their original intended audience: the radio listener.

16 This subtler, more comfortably pluralistic language comes out clearly, for instance, in the introduction to a recent Modernist Cultures special issue on radio modernism: ‘Rather than construing “radio” as some sort of singular technological genie or shaping force, this new work traces plural histories, multiple conversations, and feedback loops’ (Cohen and Coyle 2). A major influence on these changes has been the emerging field of ‘sound studies’ and, in particular, the work of Jonathan Sterne, whose book The Audible Past challenged media-studies approaches based in either Frankfurt School methodology or Marshall McLuhan’s midcentury media studies.

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