Through the route of the dog, I examine the limits and reach of what I call Williams's “poetic ethnography.” In disavowing any cherished humanism, William Carlos Williams writes his long poem Paterson. In acknowledging the obscenity of his twentieth-century world and a brutal history that he knew to be particular to America, he sought a practical and embodied method of writing that did not entail dominance and instead skirted intelligibility.

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