Tracy Tucker, M.A.
Education: Bachelor of Arts in English (May 2009)
Master of Arts in English from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln
McNair Project: Kansas Radical Poetry and the American Dream: A Comparative Study of Selected Works of Ralph Chaplin and Kenneth Wiggins Porter (2008)
Mentor: Tim Dayton, Ph.D.
Kansas’s history of political turmoil and social activism is inextricably linked with homesteading and that “American dream” of a Jeffersonian utopia of ruggedly independent farmers and craftsmen, and Kansas literature was born of that embattled tradition of idealistic individualism and social justice. Ralph Chaplin and Kenneth Wiggins Porter, two Kansas leftist poets of the early 20th century, utilize these Kansas themes within their poetry, and yet today go largely unrecognized. Today’s literary scholar has an important task – to recover and document the work of those authors who have, for reasons political and fashionable, fallen out of the public eye. In this study, I will compare Chaplin’s “Rubaiyat of a Harvest Stiff” with Porter’s “The Happy Farmer” and Chaplin’s “Preparedness” with Porter’s “Harvest: June, 1938,” as I examine the themes of farming, social activism, and the “American dream” as they are portrayed in these poems.