English, Department of


Date of this Version



Lorang, Elizabeth. "American Poetry and the Daily Newspaper from the Rise of the Penny Press to the New Journalism." Ph.D. Disseration. University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 2010.


A DISSERTATION Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Major: English, Under the Supervision of Professor Susan Belasco. Lincoln, Nebraska: May, 2010

Copyright (c) 2010 Elizabeth M. Lorang


This dissertation examines the relationship of poetry and the U.S. daily newspaper in the nineteenth century and begins the process of recovering and reevaluating nineteenth-century newspaper poetry. In doing so, it draws on and participates in current discussions about the role of poetry and poets in society, the importance of periodicals in the development and dissemination of American literature in the nineteenth century, and the value of studying non-canonical texts. The appearance and function of poems in daily newspapers changed over the course of the nineteenth century, and these changes were part of larger shifts in the newspaper and its cultural function, in the role of poetry, in conceptions of authorship, and in the trajectory of American literature. Rarely considered in histories of American literature or studies of poetry, newspaper poems emerge here as a key part of the story of nineteenth-century American poetry, both because of their presence and participation in the daily lives of the people and because of their impact on literary culture.

The four chapters offer new models for thinking about the cultural work of newspaper poetry. Together, they present an original explanation for newspaper poetry's rise and fall in relation to the literary canon. Because nineteenth-century newspapers are multi-genre, multi-authored texts that mediated political, social, popular, cultural, and civic experiences, they require a multi-disciplinary approach. This project engages and contributes to literary criticism, textual scholarship, and a range of histories—book, media, social—and develops understanding of the American literary record, publishing and book history, the history of the newspaper, and the role of the newspaper as cultural intermediary. In doing so, it expands understanding of the kinds and variety of poems published in newspapers, of the history of poetry in American literature, and of authorship in the nineteenth century. When considered in a contemporary context, this project provides a lens through which to view the reappearance of poetry in the struggling American newspaper of the twenty-first century.

Adviser: Susan Belasco