Jack Chelgren

Cohort Year: 2020
Research Interests: Modernism in the Americas; Poetry and Poetics; Film Studies; Race and Capitalism
Education: MFA, UMass Amherst, 2020; BA University of Washington, 2015


My research concentrates on early and mid-twentieth-century literatures of the Americas, with an emphasis on the relationship between literature and mass culture. In my dissertation project in progress, I look at how poets and novelists throughout the hemisphere responded to film comedy in the 1920s and 1930s, from the slapstick of Chaplin, Keaton, and Lloyd to the verbal riffing of the Marx Brothers and Cantinflas. I ask how writers translated film comedy into literature, and what these adaptations suggest about the status of nationalism and global capitalism between the world wars. Key figures in my project include Anita Loos, Salvador Novo, César Vallejo, Hilda Mundy, and Norah Lange.

More broadly, my research and teaching interests include twentieth-century poetry and poetics, race and US culture 1900–1950, and comparative literatures of the Americas.