In the poetry of modernist Marianne Moore and contemporary American poet Natasha Trethewey, we find tours of historic places that are associated with the country’s founding history. How does the activity of the tour contemplate the ways in which historical knowledge takes shape and around what priorities and ideals? Exploring this question, these poems stage touristic encounters that serve not only to document the places visited but to question the frames by which a site is “seen” in relation to—often in support of—selected versions of American history. The impact of systems of classification and categorization that are common to the development of taxonomic thought, embraced by Thomas Jefferson and other early Americans, comes under inspection in these touristic poems.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited