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‘Plain Boys and Girls’ Meet the Imitative Art: José Martí on the Poetics of Public Education

Abstract

A reading of José Martí’s reaction to the first day of school in New York City and the limits of instrumental public education.

Briggs, Ronald. “‘Plain Boys and Girls’ Meet the Imitative Art: José Martí on the Poetics of Public Education.” Caribe: Revista de Cultura y Literatura 10.2 (Winter 2007-2008): 7-32.

This essay examines José Martí’s crónica on the first day of school in New York City, academic year 1886-1887. It frames his insistence that this education should include a poetic as well as a mechanical dimension as an attempt to make an aesthetic case against the industrial excesses of modernity. Reading Martí’s critique against the twin discourses of educational reform and the poetics of romanticism, it demonstrates the role of the poet-legislator in his political and aesthetic case for equilibrium as a goal of social reform.

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