I don't know who Kitty Burns Florey is, or what her website is all about, but when Arts & Letters Daily links to anything mentioning Gertrude Stein, I follow.
Florey's essay "Sister Bernadette's Barking Dog" has got me thinking: to what extent could the practice of diagramming sentences explain Stein's peculiar, experimental style? Stein's alternation of simple, declarative sentences with wild, grammar-coming-apart-at-the-hinges exercises and variations are utterly crucial for the development of American modernist poetry. Or to leave Stein for a moment, consider William Carlos Williams's famous "This Is Just To Say":
I have eaten
that were in
you were probably
they were delicious
and so cold
Williams's poem is taken from a note left for his wife, but the way in which the simple sentences are rearranged, semantically and syntactically pressurized by their new graphical arrangement,
defamiliarized by their new poetic context is not unlike the grammatical/graphical gamesmanship of sentence diagramming. (Williams liked to describe his free-verse method as pressing words into pictures.)
Stein, less fond than Williams of white space, was especially fond of games of substitution and rearrangement, as in this short prose poem, "Any one doing something and standing":
Any one doing something and standing is one doing something and standing. Some one was doing something and was standing. Any one doing something and standing is one doing something and standing. Any one doing something and standing is one who is standing and doing something. Some one was doing something and was standing. That one was doing something standing.
My internal historical researcher stood up when I noticed that Williams and Stein, like many of the earliest modernists, were born in the 1870s/1880s -- in other words, almost exactly synchronous with the widespread adoption of handbooks of sentence diagramming in American primary schools.
It's always hard to show a direct correlation with something like this, but still -- I smell an article coming on.