W. Alec Ridley — Honors in English

An American New: William Carlos Williams and the Artists’ Search for a Modern American Style
My paper focuses on the work of William Carlos Williams roughly between the years of 1917-1921. In narrowing the time frame I have been able to show Williams’ personal developments as a poet in parallel to his friend Marsden Hartley’s developments as a painter. I have also focused on the literary magazine Contact, the majority of which’s issues were published between 1920 and 1921. Contact was co-edited by Williams and argued for the creation of a modern American aesthetic in the arts. With an understanding of the importance to Williams and his painter friends such as Marsden Hartley and Charles Demuth of a modern American aesthetic I have drawn a link between the poetry from Williams’ 1921 collection Sour Grapes and the later paintings of Charles Demuth. Although this comparison was inspired by Demuth’s 1928 painting “I Saw the Figure 5 in Gold” based on a poem from Sour Grapes, my research intends to prove that Williams’ poetry did not only help to inspire one particular painting but rather the style of American Precisionism that Demuth helped to create.