Twentieth-Century American Literature

Srikanth (Chicu) Reddy

Srikanth ReddyI am a poet and scholar working at the intersection of creative and critical practice in the humanities.  In addition to teaching in the Department of English and the Program in Creative Writing, I also work closely with the university's Program in Poetry and Poetics--an interdisciplinary collective of scholars, poets, and translators who work on poetry across a diversity of regions, historical periods, and theoretical approaches.  If you are interested in learning more about Poetry and Poetics at Chicago—including our new curricular option within the university’s MAPH program—please visit the program’s website at poetics.uchicago.edu.

Lisa Ruddick

Lisa RuddickI teach courses in modern British fiction, literature and psychoanalysis, and poetry and poetics. The question driving my teaching right now is: what conduces to the feeling of aliveness? Why do good poems and novels seem to draw us close to something we'd call being, and is there a way to talk about this phenomenon in non-fuzzy, theoretical terms? What do poets variously say about the sense of readiness that precedes creation, and how does the adherence to form help to enable this readiness? 

Jennifer Scappettone

Jennifer ScappettoneMy research and teaching interests span the nineteenth through twenty-first centuries, with particular emphasis on comparative global modernism; the history and presence of the avant-garde; poetry and poetics; the evolution of cities, geographies of modernity, and current transmogrifications of place and space; literatures of travel, migration, and displacement; barbarism, polylingualism, and other futures of language in global contexts; translation; Italian culture and its echo in others; the study of gender and sexuality; relations between literary and other arts; and art history, visual culture, and aesthetics. I’m interested in the way that Anglo-American and European languages and aesthetics register changes in the coordinates of space, time, and attention.

Vu Tran

I am a fiction writer whose work thus far is preoccupied with the legacy of the Vietnam War for the Vietnamese who remained in the homeland, the Vietnamese who immigrated to America, and the Americans whose lives have intersected with both.  I write with an awareness of American postcolonial narratives, particularly in the context of cultural identity. 

William Veeder (emeritus, teaching 2015-16)

Henry James - The Lessons of the Master: by William VeederIn the classroom and on paper, I am working to integrate text and context. The pleasures of reading remain paramount for me. Now that the reaction against New Criticism has crested, I am exploring how to supplement readerly pleasures with the intricate, amplifying elements to be engaged through contextual study, and through psychoanalytic and gender theories. Whether the classroom is focusing on American and British Gothic of the Nineteenth Century (Eng. 45100, 41800) or on contemporary fiction (Eng. 247, 270, 499) or on specific figures such as Henry James (Eng. 223) or Ambrose Bierce (Eng. 298), I work from James' wonderful dictum "in the arts feeling is always meaning." Each student's individual experience of the text is what I emphasize: our goal is not to agree but to define what we share and where we disagree. Respect for affective differences, rather than homage to a fashionable ideology or methodology, is the goal of my teaching.

Kenneth Warren

Kenneth WarrenMy scholarship and teaching focuses on American and African American literature from the late nineteenth century through the middle of the twentieth century. I am particularly interested in the way that debates about literary form and genre articulate with discussions of political and social change. My two books, Black and White Strangers: Race and American Literary Realism (Chicago, 1993) and So Black and Blue: Ralph Ellison and the Occasion of Criticism (Chicago, 2003), explore how various understandings of black/white racial difference have affected, and continue to affect, the way that American authors write about and pass critical judgment on American literature.

John Wilkinson

John WilkinsonI am a poet and scholar of poetics who joined the English department in 2010. Currently I serve as Chair of Creative Writing and of the Divisional Committee on Poetics.
 
My first collection of poetry, Useful Reforms, was published in 1976. My recent publications include Down to Earth (Salt, 2008), Reckitt’s Blue (Seagull Books 2013) and Ghost Nets (Omnidawn 2016). A selected poems, Schedule of Unrest, was published by Salt in 2014. My work is referenced in the standard guides and histories of recent British poetry and of Modernist poetry, and has been the subject of several published papers.
 
My critical publications include a collection of essays, The Lyric Touch (Salt 2007), which includes essays on poetics; on ‘Cambridge School’ poetry including J.H. Prynne, Denise Riley, and John James; and on American poetry, notably John Wieners. Subsequently I have published papers on George Oppen; the New York poets Frank O’Hara and James Schuyler and three papers on Barbara Guest; and a substantial paper on lyric titled “Repeatable Evanescence”.  I have also published on the British poet Barry MacSweeney, and additional papers on Prynne.
 
My present critical, scholarly and research work falls into three distinct but related areas. I am interested in supporting research work in these areas, in New York School poetry, and in recent poetic practice and theory. Beyond the three areas indicated below, I am also publishing papers on Andrea Brady, the persistence of the elegiac genre, and a further paper on John Wieners.
 
1.         British poetry and painting in the mid-century.  I have a paper forthcoming on Dylan Thomas, but the chief focus of my attention is W.S. Graham. In particular I am interested in Graham’s relations with the St Ives painters Peter Lanyon, Roger Hilton and Bryan Wynter, and the debates on abstraction and landscape which inform both the poetic and visual work. I am also interested in the bearing of these debates on concurrent debates in the US, particular as they bear on the painting of Willem de Kooning and the poetry of Barbara Guest.
 
2.         US-UK poetics relations in the 1960s and 1970s. I am working on a paper on Charles Olson and J.H. Prynne, drawing on their extensive correspondence, which will challenge the one-way model of influence from US to UK in this period. There is considerable scope for further study, notably in relations between Ted Berrigan and John James, and the intensive connections between British Marxist Feminist poets such as Denise Riley and Wendy Mulford and American poets including Alice Notley.
 
3.         Outsider Writing. I am a Principal Investigator, along with Matt ffytche who chairs Psychoanalytical Studies at the University of Essex, for an ambitious project on Outsider Writing launching in 2016,  with its initial three years supported by the University of Chicago Neubauer Family Collegium for Culture and Society. The project will focus on post-1945 writing by people with major mental illness (but within a longer historical perspective), taking account of the antecedents of mental illness in experiences of racism, immigration and other forces of social oppression and dislocation. It will develop an archive of primary and critical materials and aims ultimately to establish a research center. The first three years will consider Outsider theory as it is now developing, connections with Outsider (visual) Art, the politics of outsider status in the art and literary markets, and define the scope of the project more broadly. It will also seek to involve practitioners as well as scholars.
 
Among other activities, I am chairing the planning group for a centennial conference on the great black Chicago poet Gwendolyn Brooks in April 2017. I am also editing with Keston Sutherland of Sussex University a special issue of Textual Practice on the aesthetic turn in criticism, with an emphasis on the implications for pedagogy. My own contribution will consider the art writing of Adrian Stokes, which connects with research area 1 above.
 
My background is unusual in that until 2005 my career was in mental health services in the UK, as a nurse, a social worker, a housing development worker, a strategic planner and a public health professional.  Although in management theory much lip service is paid to career flexibility, it is my experience that students considering an academic career don’t believe such talk, and with some reason. I’m happy to talk about the possibility and problems of sustaining an intellectual and creative life outside the academy and a creative life within it.

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