On this day in 1899, poet and critic Allen Tate is born in Winchester, Kentucky.
Tate attended Vanderbilt University, where he helped found a well-regarded poetry magazine called The Fugitive, along with poet John Crowe Ransom. The Fugitives, as the poets called themselves, advocated Southern regionalism and a return to agrarian values in their writing.
After 1934, Tate taught at Princeton University, University of Minnesota, and other schools while writing his own poetry. In the mid-1940s, he edited a literary journal called The Sewanee Review. Tate converted to Catholicism in 1950, and several of his best-known poems, including The Buried Lake (1953), are devotional poems.
Tate was an influential proponent of the New Criticism, as set forth by Ransom in his 1941 book of that title. Previously, literary criticism had tended to focus on the writer’s biography and life; New Critics treated a poem or book as complete in itself, to be analyzed objectively, through close reading, without reference to the author’s background. New Criticism’s emphasis on close reading underlies the way literature is taught in most high schools and colleges today. Tate died in Nashville in 1979.