In this article I argue that William Carlos Williams looks toward film as a means of grasping the power implicit within the modern era in which he finds himself, and I look at associations in Williams’s experimental writings, such as Spring and All and Kora in Hell, with an array of contemporary cultural figures. These include Frank O’Hara, Andrew Jackson, jurist Louis Brandeis, Labor secretary Francis Perkins, computer developer Charles Babbage, Teddy Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Gertrude Stein, Wallace Stevens, Charles Baudelaire, Marsden Hartley, Barnett Newman, Edward Manet, and Walter Benjamin. I speculate about the role of qualities of brokenness, advertisement, vividness, speed, and attention to the part rather than the whole that one finds in Hollywood’s coming attractions and in ­Williams’s poetics. This cultural studies approach to Williams considers him in ­relation to the German-Jewish modernist intellectual Walter Benjamin, with special emphasis on the Frankfurt School theoretician’s understanding of allegory as a defamiliarizing, even proto-de Manian deconstructive, narrative mode that conceives of history as a paradoxical rendering of a continuous present.

You do not currently have access to this content.