Broadcasting the Sentimental: Edna St. Vincent Millay and the Celebrity of Early Radio
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This paper treats Edna St. Vincent Millay’s relationship with early radio, particularly the eight week segment she did for NBC in the winter of 1932-33. One of the most culturally ubiquitous and celebrated literary figures of the interwar period, Millay has, since about 1950, been largely dismissed from serious literary discussion for being a too-accessible and “sentimental” poet. She was not a High Modernist. She did, however, appropriate the authority of the new broadcast medium for her own ends and needs to be studied for her cultural impact as well as for her canonical (or anti-canonical) reputation. Millay’s broadcasts represent one of the clearest and most successful examples of literary self-promotion in a career which influenced a next generation of female poets and which may have contributed to a shifting understanding of poetic “voice” in the twentieth century.