Jack Chelgren

Cohort Year: 2020
Research Interests: Twentieth-Century American Literature; Poetry and Poetics; Political Theory; Marxism
Education: MFA, UMass Amherst, 2020; BA University of Washington, 2015


My research concentrates on forms of abstraction, distortion, and excess in modern and contemporary North American literature and culture. I’m drawn to texts with odd manners like stiltedness, crudeness, anachronicity, punning, staginess, and obsessiveness, and in reading for how these quirks register a particular relation to power and subjection.

I’ve recently been engaged with writing and theory from anticapitalist, anti-imperialist milieux in the 1920s through ’70s such as the Objectivist poets, the Black Arts Movement, and the New Communist Movement. More broadly, I’m interested in the development of liberalism as a set of social, political, economic, and aesthetic mores; in the literary and artistic expressions of this development; and in how liberal societies have been both bound up and uneasy with empire, colonization, and domination.

I’m also a poet currently finishing up my first book, a novel in verse called The Spite House that deals with real estate, anarcho-communism, violent masculinity, and the politics of friendship.