Matthew Hofer

Matthew Hofer has edited or co-edited seven book-length projects: the language-centered trio LEGEND (2020), L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E newsletter (2020), and The Language Letters (2019); volumes on the politics and aesthetics of Ed Dorn (2013), Sinclair Lewis (2012), and Oscar Wilde (2009); and a special issue of The Langston Hughes Review, "Langston Hughes's Audiences after the 1930s" (2009).

His forthcoming monograph Omnicompetent Modernists: Poetry, Politics, and the Public Sphere will be published in spring 2022 in the University of Alabama Press series Modern and Contemporary Poetics. He is currently working on a book on postwar American poetry, correspondence, and thought, while seriously deliberating another on “sparseness” in twentieth-century writing.

His work to date has appeared in such periodicals as Modernism/Modernity, New German Critique, Contemporary Literature, Jacket2, American Literary Scholarship, The Journal of English Language and Literature, and Paideuma, and he has also contributed substantive chapters to many edited volumes, including The Cambridge History of American Poetry (“Ezra Pound, William Carlos Williams, and the East Coast Projectivists”), The Blackwell Companion to Modernist Poetry (“Contemporary Critical Trends”), and Ezra Pound in Context (“Education”).

LEGEND: The Complete Facsimile in Context


Conceived in 1976 and published in 1980, LEGEND exemplifies the political and linguistic commitments of then-nascent Language writing. Coauthored by Bruce Andrews, Charles Bernstein, Ray DiPalma, Steve McCaffery, and Ron Silliman, the work was composed on typewriters and developed through the mail. The twenty-six poems in the volume bring together every possible permutation of collaborative authorship in one-, two-, three-, and five-author combinations, revealing the evolution of distinctive styles against and in conversation with others. Along with a complete reproduction of the original text, LEGEND: The Complete Facsimile in Context includes a critical introduction by editors Matthew Hofer and Michael Golston, a generous selection of material from the authors’ correspondence, and a new collaborative piece by the authors. This book will be an essential resource to students and scholars in twentieth-century poetry and poetics.


LEGEND is justly legendary: a fugitive anthology as oversized in the mythic imagination of Language Poetry’s history as its format. Comprising both the most radical and most typical impulses of the movement, it is a central text that simultaneously demarcates the outer peripheries of the mappable territory of the period’s avant-garde.” —Craig Dworkin, editor of The Consequence of Innovation: 21st Century Poetics

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University of New Mexico Press

Bruce Andrews and Charles Bernstein's L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E: The Complete Facsimile


In February 1978, the L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E newsletter, founded and edited by Charles Bernstein and Bruce Andrews, established the first public venue for the thriving correspondence of an emerging set of ambitious young poets. It circulated fresh perspectives on writing, politics, and the arts. Instead of poems, it published short essays and book reviews on the model of the private letter. It also featured extensive bibliographies and excerpts of cultural, social, and political theory. Bruce Andrews and Charles Bernstein’s L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E: The Complete Facsimile makes available in print all twelve of the newsletter’s original issues along with three supplementary issues.


“This is an essential text for anyone wanting to understand how American poetry developed over the past half century. It is also full of revelatory insights into the history of struggles over different understandings of the social and political role of language during the theory wars and how writers forged their own new paths.” —Peter Middleton, author of Physics Envy: American Poetry and Science in the Cold War and After

“The L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E newsletters contain some of the most incisive readings of some of the most difficult poetry in the twentieth century, and the reviews often reveal as much about the writers as the works under consideration. The journal pioneered what came to be a signature innovation of Language Poetry and one of its lasting legacies: critical, intellectually acute essays in non-discursive and non-expository modes. Here is news that stays news.” —Craig Dworkin, editor of The Consequence of Innovation: 21st Century Poetics

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University of New Mexico Press

The Language Letters: Selected 1970s Correspondence of Bruce Andrews, Charles Bernstein, and Ron Silliman


Bruce Andrews and Charles Bernstein released the first issue of the poetics newsletter L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E in 1978, launching language-centered writing. The Language Letters reveals Language poetry in its nascent stage, with letters written by Andrews, Bernstein, Ron Silliman, and others in intense and intimate conversation regarding poetry and poetics; the contemporary poetry and arts scenes; publication venues, journals, and magazines; and issues of community, camaraderie, and friendship. The editors have included two critical introductions, two interviews with Bernstein and Andrews, and appendices that include a previously unpublished essay on Larry Eigner by Robert Grenier and short biographies of the major authors. Written between 1970 and 1978, these letters detail the development of the concepts and styles that came to define one of the most influential movements in post-1960s writing. Scholars, writers, and students of poetry will find this collection essential to understanding this important period of literary history.


“These are long, passionate, verbally alive letters, imbued at every point with the sense that something interesting was happening.” —Bob Perelman, American Literary History

“From what appears to be an enormous archive of material, the editors Matthew Hofer and Michael Golston have made an informed selection focused on the formation of a shared sense of poetics and on the urge to establish a common infrastructure and critical forum for this geographically scattered and poetically fairly diverse, although demographically strikingly uniform, community.” —Solveig Daugaard, Textual Cultures

“This collection makes a compelling argument for reassessing the poetics of language poetry as emerging from an epistolary base. Accordingly, it reframes the various essays and reviews that appeared in the notorious L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E newsletter as extensions of epistolary form, postal formats, and intimately personal correspondences. The implications for the history of late twentieth-century poetry are provocative and revelatory.” —Craig Dworkin, editor of The Consequence of Innovation: 21st Century Poetics

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University of New Mexico Press

The Shoshoneans: The People of the Basin-Plateau


First published almost fifty years ago and long out of print, The Shoshoneans is a classic American travelogue about the Great Basin and Plateau region and the people who inhabit it, never before—or since—documented in such striking and memorable fashion. Neither a book of journalism nor a work of poetry, this powerful collaboration represents the wild wandering of a white poet and black photographer in Civil Rights era (also Vietnam War era) America through a part of the indigenous West that had resisted prior incursions. The expanded edition offers a wealth of supplemental material, much of it archival, which includes poetry, correspondence, the lecture “The Poet, the People, the Spirit,” and the essay “Ed Dorn in Santa Fe.”


“Matthew Hofer’s selection of supplementary material in the form of extracts of Dorn’s letters and previously uncollected essays and poems offers both an enriched experience of The Shoshoneans to those familiar with it, and valuable contextualizing information for new readers.” —PN Review

"Not a historical treatise at all, this is a 'with it' account of a contemporary trip into Idaho, Utah and Nevada to find out about 'a people who are still very potential in this hemisphere' although they are among the oldest Americans. Among the 'people of the Basin-Plateau' are Willie Dorsey (102 years old) and his wife who together form 'a substantial prayer of flesh, plasma, spirit,' a young 'acculturated' Reno Paiute, a drunken steer-wrestler… Edward Dorn (white) and LeRoy Lucas (black) travelled to Reno and Lovelock ('they're mean in Lovelock'), to Pyramid Lake and Duck Valley ('an inherently excellent place'); saw Indians in cities and on reservations. LeRoy danced the sundance ritual for three days without food, came out of it with a new clarity and calm. His photographs, not seen here, include pictures of the sundance itself, never before photographed, along with wordless commentaries on the clash of cultures and 'faces one cannot forget.'" —Kirkus Reviews (1966)

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University of New Mexico Press

Sinclair Lewis Remembered

Sinclair Lewis Remembered

Sinclair Lewis Remembered is a collection of reminiscences and memoirs by contemporaries, friends, and associates of Lewis that offers a revealing and intimate portrait of this complex and significant Nobel Prize–winning American writer.

After a troubled career as a student at Yale, Sinclair Lewis turned to literature as his livelihood, publishing numerous works of popular fiction that went unnoticed by critics. With the 1920s, however, came Main Street, Lewis’s first critical success, which was soon followed by BabbittArrowsmithElmer Gantry, and Dodsworth—five of the most influential social novels in the history of American letters, all written within one decade.

Nevertheless, Lewis’s Nobel Prize for Literature in 1930 led to controversy. Writers such as Theodore Dreiser, William Faulkner, and Thomas Mann expressed their dissent with the decision. Unable to match his previous success, Lewis suffered from alcoholism, alienated colleagues, and embraced unpopular political positions. The nadir for Lewis’s literary reputation was Mark Schorer’s 1961 biography, Sinclair Lewis: An American Life, which helped to legitimize the dismissal of Lewis’s entire body of work.

Recent scholarly research has seen a resurgence of interest in Lewis and his writings. The multiple and varied perspectives found in Sinclair Lewis Remembered, edited by Gary Scharnhorst and Matthew Hofer, illustrate uncompromised glimpses of a complicated writer who should not be forgotten. The more than 115 contributions to this volume include reminiscences by Upton Sinclair, Edna Ferber, Alfred Harcourt, Samuel Putnam, H. L. Mencken, John Hersey, Hallie Flanagan, and many others.


“These commentaries, reminiscences, testaments, and apologias convey a convincing portrait of Sinclair Lewis, an argumentatively serious writer who lived out the sadness of a life marked by self-contradiction and spiritual ambiguity, though greatly successful for a time both critically and financially.” —George Monteiro, author of Stephen Crane's Blue Badge of Courage and Fernando Pessoa and Nineteenth-Century Anglo-American Literature

“The new book is welcome not only because it finds fresh sources but also because it is the first one-volume collection of firsthand material on Lewis, and it is certainly the first effort to tell his life story through primary texts….The new book’s distinctive achievement is that it brings readers close to a wide range of commentators, many of them very perceptive, who had the advantage of observing this important American novelist during his lifetime.” —Resources for American Literary Study

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University of Alabama Press

Oscar Wilde in America: The Interviews

Oscar Wilde in America - The Interviews

This comprehensive and authoritative collection of Oscar Wilde's American interviews affords readers a fresh look at the making of a literary legend. Better known in 1882 as a cultural icon than a serious writer (at twenty-six years old, he had by then published just one volume of poems), Wilde was brought to North America for a major lecture tour on Aestheticism and the decorative arts that was organized to publicize a touring opera, Gilbert and Sullivan's Patience, which lampooned him and satirized the Aesthetic "movement" he had been imported to represent. In this year-long series of broadly distributed and eagerly read newspaper interviews, Wilde excelled as a master of self-promotion. With characteristic aplomb, he adopted the role as the ambassador of Aestheticism, and reporters noted that he was dressed for the part. He wooed and flattered his hosts everywhere, and he tried out a number of phrases, ideas, and strategies that ultimately made him famous as a novelist and playwright. This exceptional volume cites all ninety-one of Wilde's interviews and contains transcripts of forty-eight of them, and it also includes his lecture on his travels in America.


"A generous and welcome sampling." —New York Review of Books

"Rewarding, absorbing, and necessary." —The Gay and Lesbian Review

"Highly recommended." —Choice

"Wilde was a source of fascination and provocation, and these assembled portraits reveal the rawness and the refinements, the pride and the anxieties, of American culture in the making during this important period. A vital and valuable book." —Eric Haralson, editor of Reading the Middle Generation Anew: Culture, Community, and Form in Twentieth-Century American Poetry

"This stimulating work is an invaluable record of Wilde's speech, appearance, and demeanor. An excitingly fresh study of interest both to Wilde specialists and to general readers." —Donald Mead, chairman of the Oscar Wilde Society and editor of The Wildean: A Journal of Oscar Wilde Studies

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University of Illinois Press

The Langston Hughes Review


Punctuation has value only as aid to interpretation. Where it produces confusion rather than clarity, it is of no value at all. The conventional punctuations of Hughes’s career lend themselves more to confusion than clarity. An easy division into three parts, characterized by a series of neat fits by decades—where a “folksy” 1920s is followed by a “radical” 1930s and then a “retrenched” 1940s—simply maintains a schematic sense of a complex writer, in which abstracted positions on ethnicity and class may be viewed as separate concerns rather than related ones. For a defender of the downtrodden and oppressed like Hughes, these concerns are fundamentally related, and from this perspective his radical work should be understood as an extension and amplification of his folk ethics rather than a break from it (style is, of course, another matter). The ideals that inspired him to advocate for interracial and intra-racial equality also underwrote his condemnation of global capital and informed his search for international models of political equality. Hughes was no more prone to recognize dissonance in these concerns than to accept accusations that his dissent from American orthodoxy compromised his patriotism. He always fought for versions of a single, coherent cause. The point is, if there was a meaningful shift in Hughes’s career, it is properly located not between the 1920s and 1930s, but after pressure from the government he had perhaps naïvely endeavored to serve had “dulled the reflex of his courage,” as Arnold Rampersad tactfully put it. Without taking its existence as a given, the essays collected in this special issue help gauge both the extent and the significance of that shift. The three questions their authors ask are, first, what audience(s) did Hughes seek after the 1930s, second, how did he attempt to reach them, and, third, what did he hope to accomplish in the process? —Matthew Hofer, from Editor’s Introduction

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