They acquired the name after publishing a small literary magazine, The Fugitive (1922–1925), which showcased their works. Although its publication history was brief, The Fugitive is considered to be one of the most influential journals in the history of American letters. The Fugitives made Vanderbilt a fountainhead of New Criticism, the dominant mode of textual analysis in English during the first half of the twentieth century.
The group was noted for the number of its members whose works were recognized with a permanent place in the literary canon. Many members were also influential teachers of literature. Among the most notable Fugitives were John Crowe Ransom, Allen Tate, Merrill Moore, Donald Davidson, William Ridley Wills, and Robert Penn Warren. In "The Briar Patch", Robert Penn Warren provided a look at the life of an exploited black in urban America. "The Briar Patch" was a defense both of segregation, and of the doctrine of "separate but equal," enshrined by Plessy v. Ferguson (1896). Less closely associated with the Fugitives were the critic Cleanth Brooks and the poet Laura Riding.
The Fugitives partly overlapped with a later group, also associated with Vanderbilt, called the Agrarians. Some of their members were part of the latter group.
- The Fugitives and Agrarians, Vanderbilt University.
- Polsgrove, Carol (2001). Divided Minds: Intellectuals and the Civil Rights Movement. Norton. ISBN 978-0-393-02013-7. Retrieved September 11, 2011.
- "Vanderbilt's Fugitive poets featured in PBS special to air on WDCN", Vanderbilt University.
- "The Fugitives", Rhodes College.
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