rsz bush ron






 Ron Bush

Drue Heinz Professor of American Literature
St. John's College, Oxford University



"Young Willows" in Pound's Pisan Cantos: "Light as the Branch of Kuanon." Modernism and the Orient. Ed. Zhaoming Qian. New Orleans: University of New Orleans Press, 2013. 


Building on the work of 19th-century and early 20th-century art historians Ernest Fenollosa and Laurence Binyon, the 20th-century American poet Ezra Pound became fascinated early in his career with the Buddhist Bodhisattva of compassion, Kwan-yin, and in his poetry assimilated her image along with that of the Western image of the Virgin Mary into a composite symbol that attempted to fuse Western and Eastern religious iconography. Pound even attempted to link this image to the writings of Confucius, which he spent many years translating. Unlike his predecessors, however, Pound was less interested in Christianizing Kwan-yin than in appropriating distinctive elements of her religious attributes in his own poetic landscapes. Among these elements the most important were Kwan-yin's traditional iconographic associations with a vessel of pure water, the lotus, the willow branch, and the moon. We see Pound's most powerful renderings of these symbols in the masterpiece he wrote in an American prison camp at the end of World War II, the Pisan Cantos. But they are even clearer in early manuscript versions of the poem (written in Italian and then in English) than they are in the final version of the poem. These still only partially published drafts elaborate the traditional iconography of Kwan-yin into a vision of the feminine qualities of heaven's compassionate intercession and the healing power of nature that is at the same time multi-cultural and deeply personal. This essay is the first to examine Pound's treatment of Kwan-yin in the unpublished drafts of the Pisan Cantos (both in the fragmentary Italian drafts he wrote before the war ended, and in the manuscript draft of the English poem itself), and it uses the drafts to elucidate both Pound's understanding of Kwan-yin and the meaning of some of the most important passages in the poem as it was finally published.


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B.A., University of Pennsylvania (Summa Cum Laude in English)


B.A., Cambridge University (Honours in English)


Ph.D., Princeton University





Senior Research Fellow, St. John’s College, Oxford


Senior Research Fellow, Institute for English Studies, School For Advanced Study, University of London


Visiting Scholar, American Academy in Rome


Hurst Visiting Professor, Washington University


Oxford University, Drue Heinz Professor of American Literature




Harvard University, Visiting Scholar in the History of American Civilization


Visiting Fellow, Exeter College, Oxford


California Institute of Technology, Associate Professor and Professor


Harvard University, Assistant and Associate Professor





Clark Fund (Harvard University) Stipend

1975-76; 1981-82

National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowships

1977-78, 1992-3




Advisory Board, Cambridge University Press Studies in American Literature and Culture

Advisory Editor, MODERNISM / modernity

Advisory Editor, Literary Imagination (2000-2003)

Editorial Board, Paideuma

Editorial Board, Rivista di Letterature d'America

Editorial Board, Historicizing Modernism Series, Continuum Press

International Evaluation Committee, Program in American Literature, University of Rome 3

Referee, Italian Evaluation of Research Quality Exercise

Oxford: English Faculty Board and Board of Graduate Studies, Chair of the M. St. Examinations Board, Rothermere Institute Executive Committee, 

MLA Executive Committee, Division of 20th-century English Literature, 1983-88

Convener, Literature Group (Equivalent of Chair), Caltech, 1988-90

Chair, Search Committee (Literature), Caltech, 1988, 1990, 1992

Chair, Mellon Post-doc Search Committee, Caltech, 1986, 1989, 1991

Selection Panel, Newcombe Fellowships, Woodrow Wilson Foundation, 1981-83

Consulting Editor, UMI Research Press New Books in Modern Literature (1982-89).

Referee, Yale, Princeton, Harvard, Cambridge, Oxford, Blackwells, California, Chicago,

Johns Hopkins, SUNY, Rutgers, Penn State, Louisiana State, Pennsylvania, Duke, Texas, Michigan, Virginia University Presses

Faculty Council, Harvard University, 1974-76

Graduate Admissions Committee, Dept. of English, Harvard University, 1979-82

Freshman Admissions Committee, Caltech, 1984-1993





The Pisan Cantos of Ezra Pound: A Critical Edition (Contract, OUP). 2 Volumes:


Vol I. Prolegomena: The Composition of The Pisan Cantos.

Vol. II. Critical Text


Ezra Pound and the Ideologies of Modernism: Essays on the Major Poetry (Contract, OUP)


(With Erik Tonning) The Correspondence of Ezra Pound and the Frobenius Institute 1930-1959 (Contract, Continuum)


James Joyce’s Modernist Self


List of Publications 



T.S. Eliot: A Study in Character and Style. Oxford UP, 1984.

The Genesis of Ezra Pound's Cantos. Princeton UP, 1977.

 Edited volumes

1. Claiming the Stones/Naming the Bones: Cultural Property and the Negotiation of National and Ethnic Identity in the American and British Experience. Eds. Elazar Barkan and Ron Bush. Getty research Institute, 2002.

(Symposium held at St. John's College, Oxford 19-21 April, 1998)


-- Amending historical injustices / Elazar Barkan

-- Appropriating the stones / Timothy Webb

-- Latin America, Native America, and the politics of culture /Clemency Coggins

-- Objects and identities /Claire L. Lyons

-- Kennewick Man - a kin? Too distant / Douglas W. Owsley and Richard L. Jantz

-- Cultural significance and the Kennewick skeleton /Patty Gerstenblith

-- Selling grandma / Darrell Addison Posey

-- Stones resung /Hélène La Rue

-- More than skin deep /Ngahuia Te Awekotuku

-- New Negro displayed /Marlon B. Ross

-- Birth of whose nation? /Jonathan Arac

-- Yeats, group claims, and Irishry /R.F. Foster

-- Cutlural property and identity politics in Britain /Robert J.C. Young

-- Property, schmoperty! Philip Roth, Postmodernism and the Contradictions of Cultural Property/Ronald Bush



Cultural property such as works of art monuments, literature, sacred remains, and traditional practices can create a profound sense of communal belonging, yet nothing illuminates the ambiguities of group identity more powerfully than conflicting claims to such material. This volume addresses current controversies over various kinds of cultural property from the perspectives of archaeology, physical anthropology, ethno biology, ethnomusicology, law, history, and cultural and literary studies. Its fifteen essays focus on tangible, unique property such as the Parthenon Marbles and the Kennewick skeleton where disagreements over custody have prompted debates about repatriation and restitution; intangible property such as the patterns of Maori tattoo whose appropriation has instigated calls for indigenous licensing and control; and figurative "representations" such as Philip Roth's portrayal of American Jewishness that have provoked both censure and censorship.


2. The Prehistories of the Future. The Primitivist Project and the Culture of Modernism. Eds. Elazar Barkan and Ron Bush. Stanford UP, 1995.


Introduction / Elazar Barkan and Ronald Bush

-- The Presence of the Past: Ethnographic Thinking/Literary Politics / Ronald Bush

-- Savage Crowds, Modernism, and Modern Politics / Robert Nye

-- Victorian Promiscuity: Greek Ethics and Primitive Exemplars / Elazar Barkan

-- The Moment of Prestidigitation: Magic, Illusion, and Mana in the Thought of Emile Durkheim and Marcel Mauss / Vincent Crapanzano

-- Patterns of Strangeness: Franz Boas, Modernism, and the Origins of Anthropology / Julia E. Liss

-- Frazer, Einstein, and Free Play / Christopher Herbert

-- In a Glass Darkly: Photography, the Premodern, and Victorian Horror / Joss Lutz Marsh

-- Manipulated Images: European Photographs of Pacific Peoples / Virginia Lee-Webb

-- Travel Engravings and the Construction of the Primitive / Christopher B. Steiner

-- Gauguin's French Baggage: Decadence and Colonialism in Tahiti / Nancy Perloff

-- Modernism's African Mask: The Stein-Picasso Collaboration / Michael North.



This volume reconsiders primitivism and modernism, emphasizing an earlier chronology than has been conventionally accepted and showing how ethnographic materials shaped a variety of high and low discourses (ethnology, social theory, gender construction, and classical scholarship, as well as travel photography) at the turn of the century. Acknowledging the complexities, political and otherwise, of the primitivist project, the sixteen essays in this book suggest that primitivism has always been involved contested ideological forces and that the process seems to have generated a set of responses inseparable from what we have come to call modernism.


3. T.S. Eliot: A Modernist in History. Ed. Ron Bush.  Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1991.


--- Eliot and women / Lyndall Gordon

-- Gender, voice, and figuration in Eliot's early poetry / Carol Christ

-- Ara vos prec : Eliot's negotiation of satire and suffering / James Longenbach

-- The waste land and Eliot's poetry notebook / John T. Mayer

-- The price of modernism : publishing The waste land / Lawrence Rainey

-- The allusive poet : Eliot and his sources / A. Walton Litz

-- Forms of simultaneity in The waste land and Burnt Norton / Alan Williamson

-- Eliot, Lukács, and the politics of modernism / Michael North

-- T.S. Eliot and modernism at the present time : a provocation / Ronald Bush.



The centenary of Eliot's birth in 1988 provided the salutary occasion for a fresh look at his life and work and a reassessment in light of issues raised by the various critical movements - the new historicism, feminism, reader-reception theory - that have succeeded the New Criticism, loosely subsumable under the rubric post-structuralist. The essays assembled here vary in approach, but they share a commitment to the discipline of history and an awareness that history can function as critique as well as celebration. Several contributors take issue with Eliot's self-presentation and include documents Eliot chose not to emphasise. Others address topics including the business of producing culture in twentieth-century writing, the impact of self-professed masculinist poetry on women readers and modernism's social vouchers.



(with David Ten Eyck). “A Critical Edition of Ezra Pound’s Pisan Cantos: Problems and Solutions.” Textual Cultures 8.2 (2014): 121-41.

“Ezra Pound: Paris et L’Italie de l’avenir: 1922-1924." Modes and Facets of the American Scene: Studies in Honor of Cristina Giorcelli. Ed. Dominique Marçais. Rome: ILA Palma, 2014. 203-212.

“‘Young Willows’ in the Pisan Cantos: ‘Light as the Branch of Kuanon.’” Modernism and the Orient. Ed. Zhaoming Qian. New Orleans: UNO Press, 2013. 185-213. Print.

“Between Religion and Science: Ezra Pound, Scotus Erigena and the Beginnings of a Twentieth-Century Paradise.” Rivista di Letterature d'America. XXXII 141/42 (2012): 95-124. Print.

"'an Easy Commerce of the Old and New'? Recent Eliot Scholarship." Modernism/modernity 17 (2010): 677-81. Print.

"La Filosofica Famiglia: Cavalcanti, Avicenna, and the 'Form' of Ezra Pound's Pisan Cantos." Textual Practice 24.4 (2010): 669-705. Print.

"Tennis by the Book: Lolita and the Game of Modernist Fiction." Transitional Nabokov. Eds. Will Norman and Duncan White. Bern: Peter Lang, 2009. xiii, Print.

"Art Versus the Descent of the Iconoclasts: Cultural Memory in Ezra Pound's Pisan Cantos." Modernism/Modernity 14 (2007): 71-95. Print.

"Art Versus the Descent of the Inconoclasts: Cultural Memory in Ezra Pound's Pisan Cantos; American Poetry: Whitman to Present. Eds. Robert Rehder and Patrick Vincent. Tübingen: Narr Franke Attempto, 2006. Print.    

 "Imagist Poetics and the Cultural Politics of Modernism." Ambassadors: American Studies in a Changing World.  Eds. Massimo Bacigalupo and Gregory Dowling. Genoa: AISNA - Associazione Italiana di Studi, 2006.  Print.

"Pound, Emerson, and Thoreau: The Pisan Cantos and the Politics of American Pastoral." Paideuma: Studies in American and British Modernist Poetry 34.2-3 (2005): 271-92. Print.

 "In Pursuit of Wilde Possum: Reflections on Eliot, Modernism, and the Nineties." Modernism/Modernity 11 (2004): 469-85. Print.

"Modernist Poetry and Poetics." The Cambridge History of Twentieth-Century English Literature. Eds. Laura Marcus and Peter Nicholls. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2004. Print.    

"Remaking Canto 74." Paideuma: Studies in American and British Modernist Poetry 32.1-3 (2003): 157-86. Print.

“Confucius Erased: The Missing Ideograms in The Pisan Cantos.” Ezra Pound and China. Ed. Zhaoming Qian. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan, 2003. 163-192. Print.

"A Response to Ronald Schuchard." Modernism/Modernity 10.1 (2003): 33-6. Print.

"Property, Shmoperty! Philip Roth, Postmodernism, and the Contradictions of Cultural Property." Claiming the Stones, Naming the Bones: Cultural Property and the Negotiation of National and Ethnic Identity. Eds. Elazar Barkan and Ronald Bush. Los Angeles, CA: Getty Research Institute, 2002. Print.   

"Science, Epistemology, and Literature in Ezra Pound's Objectivist Poetics (with a Glance at the New Physics, Louis Zukofsky, Aristotle, Neural Network Theory, and Sir Philip Sidney)." Literary Imagination: The Review of the Association of Literary Scholars and Critics 4.2 (2002): 191-210. Print.

"Science, Epistemology, and Literature in Ezra Pound's Objectivist Poetics (with a Glance at the New Physics, Louis Zukofsky, Aristotle, Neural Network Theory, and Sir Philip Sidney)." The Idea and the Thing in Modernist American Poetry. Studi Di Letteratura. Ed. Cristina Giorcelli. Palermo, Italy: Ila Palma, 2001. Print.   

"A Response to William Arrowsmith's Eliot." Literary Imagination: The Review of the Association of Literary Scholars and Critics 2.2 (2000): 171-81. Print.

"'as if You were Hearing it from Mr. Fletcher Or Mr. Tourneur in 1633': T. S. Eliot's 1933 Harvard Lecture Notes for English 26 ('Introduction to Contemporary Literature')." ANQ: A Quarterly Journal of Short Articles, Notes, and Reviews 11 (1998): 11-20. Print.

"Monstrosity and Representation in the Postcolonial Diaspora: 'the Satanic Verses,' 'Ulysses,' and 'Frankenstein." Borders, Exiles, Diasporas; Cultural Sitings. Eds. Elazar Barkan and Marie-Denise Shelton. Stanford, CA: Stanford UP, 1998. Print.

"Rereading the Exodus: Frankenstein, Ulysses, the Satanic Verses, and Other Postcolonial Texts." Transcultural Joyce. Ed. Karen R. Lawrence. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1998. Print.

"James Joyce, Eleanor Marx, and the Future of Modernism." The Future of Modernism. Ed. Hugh Witemeyer. Ann Arbor, MI: U of Michigan P, 1997. Print.

"James Joyce: The Way He Lives Now." James Joyce Quarterly 33.4 (1996): 523-9. Print.

"James Joyce and Oscar Wilde." In-between: Essays and Studies in Literary Criticism 4.2 (1995): 115-26. Print.

"The Presence of the Past: Ethnographic Thinking/Literary Politics." Prehistories of the Future: The Primitivist Project and the Culture of Modernism. Cultural Sitings." Eds. Elazar Barkan and Ronald Bush. Stanford, CA: Stanford UP, 1995. Print.  

"Modernism, Fascism, and the Composition of Ezra Pound's Pisan Cantos." Modernism/Modernity 2.3 (1995): 69-87. Print.

"Yeats and Modernism." Yeats: An Annual of Critical and Textual Studies 13 (1995): 21-9. Print.

"Family Portraits and how they Grow." James Joyce Quarterly 31.4 (1994): 581-96. Print.

"'Unstill, Ever Turning': The Composition of Ezra Pound's Drafts & Fragments." Text: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Textual Studies 7 (1994): 397-422. Print.

"'Unstill, Ever Turning': The Composition of Ezra Pound's Drafts & Fragments. Ezra Pound and Europe. Eds. Richard Taylor and Claus Melchior. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1993. Print.   

"Nathaniel Hawthorne and T. S. Eliot's American Connection." T. S. Eliot: An Anthology of Recent Criticism. New Orientations. Ed. Tapan Kumar Basu. Delhi: Pencraft, 1993. Print.   

"Two Lost Essays and the Symbolism of T. S. Eliot's Later Poetry." The Fire and the Rose: New Essays on T. S. Eliot. Eds. Vinod Sena and Rajiva Verma. Delhi: Oxford UP, 1992. Print.   

"Excavating the Ideological Faultlines of Modernism: Editing Ezra Pound's Cantos." Representing Modernist Texts: Editing as Interpretation. Ed. George Bornstein. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 1991. Print.   

"Paul De Man, Modernist." Theoretical Issues in Literary History. Harvard English Studies. Ed. David Perkins. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1991. Print.   

"T. S. Eliot and Modernism at the Present Time: A Provocation." T. S. Eliot: The Modernist in History. Cambridge Studies in American Literature and Culture." Ed. Ronald Bush. Cambridge, England: Cambridge UP, 1991. Print.

"'it Draws One to Consider Time Wasted': Hugh Selwyn Mauberley." American Literary History 2.1 (1990): 56-78. Print.  

"'Turned Toward Creation': T. S. Eliot, 1988." T. S. Eliot: Man and Poet, I. Ed. Laura Cowan. Orono: U of Maine P, 1990.  Print.   

"The Modernist Under Siege." Yeats: An Annual of Critical and Textual Studies 6 (1988): 3-11. Print.

"Eliot and Hopkins: Through a Glass Darkly." Hopkins among the Poets: Studies in Modern Responses to Gerard Manley Hopkins.  Ed. Richard F. Giles. Hamilton, Ont.: Internat. Hopkins Assn, 1985. Print.   

"Nathaniel Hawthorne and T. S. Eliot's American Connection." The Southern Review 21.4 (1985): 924-33. Print.

"Pound and Li Po: What Becomes a Man." Ezra Pound among the Poets. Ed. George Bornstein. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1985. Print.   

"Yeats, Spooks, Nursery Rhymes, and the Vicissitudes of Late Modernism." Yeats: An Annual of Critical and Textual Studies 3 (1985): 17-33. Print.

"Gathering the Limbs of Orpheus: The Subject of Pound's Homage to Sextus Propertius." Ezra Pound & William Carlos Williams: The University of Pennsylvania Conference Papers. Ed. Daniel Hoffman. Philadelphia: U of Pennsylvania P, 1983. Print.   

"Modern/Postmodern: Eliot, Perse, Mallarmé, and the Future of the Barbarians." Modernism Reconsidered. Eds. Robert Kiely and John Hildebidle. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1983. Print.   

"T. S. Eliot: Singing the Emerson Blues." Emerson: Prospect and Retrospect. Ed. Joel Porte. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1982.  Print.   

"The 'Rhythm of Metaphor': Yeats, Pound, Eliot and the Unity of Image in Postsymbolist Poetry."  Allegory, Myth, and Symbol. Ed. Morton W. Bloomfield. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1981. Print.   

"Pound and Spengler: Another Look." Paideuma: A Journal Devoted to Ezra Pound Scholarship 5 (1976): 63-5. Print.




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