At Tufts University in Boston we read continued our investigation of poetry as an important aspect racial origin narratives, reading Gummere and Watts-Dunton. The Gummere reading unofficially launched the Virginia Jackson school of Gummere studies at Tufts. Watts-Dunton writes “As an expression of imaginative feeling, as the movement of energy, as one of those great primal human forces which go to the development of the race, poetry in the wide sense has played as important a part as science.” Gummere’s hugely influential Beginnings of Poetry has become a recurring touchpoint at our meetings, and his history of the use of ethnographic studies to the study of “primitive poetry” continues to provide an invaluable bibliographies to the ways in which ideas about race and poetry are intertwined in the British and American imagination.


Francis Barton Gummere’s Beginnings of Poetry New York: Macmillan (1901) 

Theodore Watts-Dunton Poetry and the Renascence of Wonder New York: E.P. Dutton and Company, 1913