Everyone Selectively Loves Lanier

My group is studying Lanier’s popularity as a poet and Southerner before and after his death. My focus is to demonstrate how editors and publishers emphasized certain qualities of Lanier and his work as a marketing technique after he died. For this reason, I decided to use a combination of memorials and books to demonstrate how memorials and editorial framing methods were used to appeal to a new readership.

My first exhibit will be the first page of the Onandaga Health Association Memorial. This was a lecture given in 1942 at Syracuse University, and it lauded Lanier’s literary genius, focusing on his nature poems. The beginning of the paper gives some autobiographical information, and mentions how he combated tuberculosis and enlisted as a confederate solider. In 1942, people were suffering from World War II, so the manner in which this memorial was written was probably supposed to make him relatable to the average American at the time. It was a good way to commemorate him on his centennial, because the people could relate to him as a veteran and an American who was proud of his land.

The second image I would like to use is the cover of The 1949 photographic edition of The Marshes of Glynn. The cover has the title on the top half, written in a windy font over a red background, and the bottom half is an image of imbricated, marsh-sand layers. I would like to include this because it was published a few years after World War II, and it uses photography to add aesthetic value. The pictures may also function to help readers envision the poem so that the language becomes easier to understand. This makes it more pleasant and appealing to readers that may have otherwise equated it to dense, academic writing.

My third image would be the front cover of The Lanier Book. It has an image of two children, a boy and a girl playing with floral vines and sitting opposite one another with a large shell between them. It is aesthetically pleasing to adults, and children may identify with it.

The next image I would like to use is the cover of the 1907 version of Hymns of the Marshes. I would like to use the cover because I am already comparing the covers of other books to observe their editorial values. This green cover has a gold-embossed title with an image of the marsh within a diamond shape below. It was designed to evoke a nature-like feel, and aside from being pretty, the cover is durable. This alone, besides the contents of the book, is strong evidence of editorial impressions in a posthumous publication.

My fifth image is the cover of Poems of Sidney Lanier. This is a posthumous book that still has its dust jacket and is a reprint of the 1916 edition of the book. I would like to present the dust jacket in my exhibit to compare it to other older bindings of the same text. I am studying the arrangement of two versions of this book, and I have listed the 1903 print as a secondary source in my bibliography.


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