"Fugitive verses": The circulation of poems in nineteenth-century American newspapers

Ryan Cordell, Abby Mullen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


This article proposes a nineteenth-century term, "fugitive verses," as a conceptual framework for grappling with the textual and authorial fluidity of newspaper poetry, a genre that simultaneously reflected the stability of literary conventions and refracted those conventions through the exchange, selection, and seriality that defined newspaper networks. The term "fugitive" shifted from referring to poems published to mark one specific occasion in time to those that demonstrate the serial, circulatory, and recursive temporality of newspaper publication and readership. Fugitive poems are fluid, adaptable for new contexts and audiences. They blend the literary with the informational, as the poems' texts and authorship narratives interweave to appeal to readers. Like other species of newspaper texts, fugitive verses were preserved through circulation, and through dynamic interplays among the networks of writers, editors, and readers who composed, recomposed, excerpted, and remediated them in both newspapers and closely related media, such as scrapbooks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)29-52
Number of pages24
JournalAmerican Periodicals
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Anonymity
  • Authorship
  • Digital humanities
  • Exchanges
  • Poetry
  • Reprinting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Literature and Literary Theory


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