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Susannah Gottlieb (Ph.D., Chicago) is a co-founder and Director of the Poetry and Poetics Colloquium and Associate Chair of the Department of English.  She works in the areas of modern and contemporary poetry and poetics, continental philosophy and political theory, German-Jewish intellectual history, and Asian American literary traditions.  She is the author of Regions of Sorrow: Anxiety and Messianism in Hannah Arendt and W.H. Auden and the editor of Hannah Arendt: Reflections on Literature and Culture.  An Associate Professor of English, Comparative Literary Studies, and Asian American Studies, she regularly teaches courses on poetry, poetics, and literary theory.  Her current book project is entitled The Importance of Metaphysics: The Intellectual Heresies of W. H. Auden.

Interim Directors, 2014-2019

Harris Feinsod (Ph.D., Stanford) teaches 20th and 21st century U.S. and Latin American literature and culture. His research focuses on comparative poetics and the history of poetry in English and Spanish, modernism and the historical avant-gardes in Europe and the Americas, transnational literary studies, (especially the history of hemispheric literary and cultural relations), oceanic studies, and the inter-ethnic cultures of the U.S. “new west.” His writing appears in American Quarterly, Centro, Chicago Review, Telos, and the Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics, for which he is an assistant editor. He is at work on a literary history of the relations between mid-20th c. US and Latin American poets entitled Fluent Mundo: Inter-American Poetry from Good Neighbors to Countercultures.

John Alba Cutler (Ph.D., UCLA) teaches and researches US Latino/a literatures, multiethnic American poetry, contemporary American literature, and print culture studies. He is the author of Ends of Assimilation: The Formation of Chicano Literature (Oxford, 2015), as well as essays in American Literary History, American Literature, MELUS, Aztlán: A Journal of Chicano Studies, and the Los Angeles Review of Books.

Core Faculty

Chris Abani (Ph.D, University of Southern California) teaches Creative Writing (Fiction and Poetry) and Literature. He is a novelist, poet, essayist, screenwriter and playwright. His fields of interest include African Poetics, World Literature, 20th Century British and American Literature, African Presences in Medieval and Renaissance Cultural Spaces, The Architecture of Cities and their Potential Symbiotic Relationship with their Populations, West African Music, Postcolonial and Transnational Theory, Robotics and Consciousness, Yoruba and Igbo Philosophy and Religion. He is the author of The Virgin of Flames, GraceLand, Masters of the Board and Becoming Abigail, and four collections of poetry.


César Braga-Pinto (Ph.D., Berkeley) specializes in Brazilian and Lusophone African cultures and literatures. He is the author of As Promessas da História: Discursos Proféticos e Assimilação no Brasil Colonial, and the editor of Ligeiros Traços: escritos de juventude de José Lins do Rego. He is currently working on two books: the first deals with the works of Brazilian writer José Lins do Rego and the intellectual environment of the Brazilian Northeast in the 1920s and 1930s. The second examines representations of male friendship and interracial sociability in the fiction and essays written in the aftermath of the abolition of slavery in Brazil (roughly from 1888 to the early 1930s). He is also editing a multi-volume collection of works by early 20th-century Mozambican writers.


Paul Breslin (Ph.D., Virginia) specializes in modern and contemporary American poetry and Caribbean literature. He is author of The Psycho-Political Muse: American Poetry since the Fifties; Nobody’s Nation: Reading Derek Walcott; a volume of poems, You Are Here. He has also co-authored a translation of Aimé Césaire’s La Tragédie du roi Christophe. His current research focuses on 20th century Caribbean representations of the Haitian Revolution.


Clare Cavanagh, professor of Slavic and Comparative Literary Studies, is a specialist in modern Russian, Polish, and Anglo-American poetry. Her most recent book, Lyric Poetry and Modern Politics: Russia, Poland, and the West received the 2010 National Book Critics Circle Award in Criticism. She is also author of Osip Mandelstam and the Modernist Creation of Tradition (1995), and she is currently working on an authorized biography of the Nobel Prize-winning poet Czeslaw Milosz, entitled Czeslaw Milosz and His Age: A Critical Life (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux). She is also an Associate Editor of The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics (fourth edition, in progress). Cavanagh is an acclaimed translator of contemporary Polish poetry, and her essays and translations appear regularly in TLS, The New York Times Book Review, The New Yorker, Bookforum, and other major American periodicals.


Jorge Coronado (Ph.D., Columbia) chairs the department of Spanish and Portuguese. He specializes in modern Latin American and Andean literatures and cultures. His book, entitled The Andes Imagined: Indigenismo, Society, and Modernity, appeared in 2009. He has written articles on indigenismo, photography, and the avant-garde, and he is currently working on The Andes Pictured: Photography and Lettered Culture, 1900-50, a cultural history of photography in the southern Andes.


Betsy Erkkila (Ph.D., Berkeley) specializes in modern and contemporary poetry and poetics; gender, race, and political theory; transatlantic literary exchange; history of the book; popular culture; Jefferson, Whitman, Poe, Pound; women poets. She is the author of Walt Whitman Among the French; Whitman the Political Poet; The Wicked Sisters; and Mixed Bloods and Other American Crosses. Her current projects include “Founding Terrors: The Other American Revolution,” “Ezra Pound: The Contemporary Reviews,” and essays on the rise of the American novel, Poe, and Lincoln in Europe.


Peter Fenves (Ph.D., Hopkins) is professor of German, Comparative Literary Studies, and Jewish Studies as well as adjunct professor of Philosophy, Political Science and English. His many books include A Peculiar Fate: Metaphysics and World-History in Kant (1991), “Chatter”: Language and History in Kierkegaard (1993), Arresting Language: From Leibniz to Benjamin (2001), Late Kant: Towards Another Law of the Earth (2003), and most recently The Messianic Reduction: Walter Benjamin and the Shape of Time (2010). He has also edited volumes on Kant and Derrida and Jewish literature and philosophy, he is translator of Werner Hamacher’s Premises: Literature and Philosophy from Kant to Celan (1996), and he is the author of numerous essays and introductions on topics in poetry, literature, philosophy, and critical theory.


Christine Froula (Ph.D., Chicago) specializes in American, British, and European modernist literature, visual art, and culture; feminist and gender theory; and editorial theory and practice. Books include Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Avant-Garde; Modernism’s Body: Sex, Culture, and Joyce; To Write Paradise: Style and Error in Ezra Pound’s Cantos; and A Guide to Ezra Pound’s Selected Poems.


Reginald Gibbons (Ph.D., Stanford) is the Frances Hooper Professor of Arts and Humanities.  He has published over thirty volumes of poems, fiction, criticism, translations from ancient Greek and Spanish, edited collections of essays, fiction and poetry, and editions of modern fiction. He was Editor of TriQuarterly (1981-1997) and is a co-founder of the Poetry and Poetics Colloquium.  Jointly appointed in English, Classics and Spanish and Portuguese, he is also Director of The Center for the Writing Arts and Co-Director of the MA/MFA in Creative Writing.


Mary Kinzie (Ph.D., Johns Hopkins) is a poet, editor, and critic who has taught at Northwestern University since 1975. She did graduate work at the Free University of Berlin and Johns Hopkins University on Fulbright and Woodrow Wilson Fellowships. Kinzie has written critical essays on the philosophical style of Jorge Luis Borges; on the blank verse of John Milton; on the poets Elizabeth Bishop, Louise Bogan, Randall Jarrell, Robert Lowell, Edwin Muir, Howard Nemerov, Sylvia Plath, Julia Randall, Adrienne Rich, and Richard Wilbur; and on the legacy of Wallace Stevens. More than 180 of her poems have appeared in little magazines and national journals.


Emily Maguire (Ph.D., NYU) specializes in modern Latin American literature and culture, with a focus on the Hispanic Caribbean. She is affiliated with the Latin American and Caribbean Studies Program and the Latino Studies Program. Her book Racial Experiments in Cuban Literature and Ethnography (2011) explores how Cuban writers in the first half of the twentieth century forged a literary space in which to write the nation by drawing from two forms of expression, ethnography and literature, in their re-valorization of Afro-Cuban culture as the source of Cuban-ness. She has published articles on Afro-Cuban poetry, black internationalism, Cuban cyberpunk writing and contemporary Dominican literature. Her new project examines the uses of science fiction in Caribbean literature.


Cynthia Nazarian (Ph.D., Princeton University) is in the department of French & Italian. Her research explores connections between early modern poetry and other genres in France, England and Italy, and the links between literature and politics. Her interests include the poetics and aesthetics of violence, figurations of gender and the body in early modern literature and medicine, classical imitation and Renaissance humanism, allegory, subjectivity and genre. She is currently at work on a book entitled Petrarch’s Wound: Love, Violence and the Politics of Renaissance Europe that investigates the politics and ethics of widespread metaphors of dismemberment, constraint, cannibalism, and wounding in 16th-century French, English and Italian love poetry.


Samuel Weber is Avalon Foundation Professor of Humanities at Northwestern and co-director of its Paris Program in Critical Theory. Professor Weber studied with Paul de Man and Theodor W. Adorno, whose book, Prisms, he co-translated into English, helping to define the way in which the Frankfurt School would be read and understood in the English-speaking world. Professor Weber has also published books on Balzac, Lacan, and Freud as well as on the relation of institutions and media to interpretation. In the 1980s he worked in Germany as a dramaturge in theater and opera productions. Out of the confrontation of that experience with his work in critical theory came the book, Theatricality as Medium (2004), followed in 2005 by Targets of Opportunity: On the Militarization of Thinking. His most recent book is Benjamin’s -abilities. His current research projects include “Toward a Politics of Singularity” and “The Uncanny”.


Rachel Webster (M.F.A. Warren Wilson) is the author of the full-length collection of poetry, “September,” (Northwestern University Press, 2013) and a hybrid of poetry and prose, titled “The Endless Unbegun” (Twelve Winters Press, forthcoming in 2015) as well as two chapbooks, “The Blue Grotto” (Dancing Girl Press 2009) and “Leaving Phoebe” (Dancing Girl Press, forthcoming in 2015). She edits an online anthology of international poetry, UniVerse of Poetry, which features poets from every nation in the world and creates programs to widen poetry’s audience, through which she curated and produced “The Gift,” a series of radio essays about poetry for Chicago Public Radio. She teaches advanced and beginning classes in poetry and creative non-fiction.


Will West (Ph.D., University of Michigan) studies, teaches, and thinks about poetry and poetics mainly through the contexts of the European Renaissance, classical antiquity, and other premodern societies. His interest in poetics extends beyond verse to include the structures and patterns into which prose and drama are shaped, the tropes and practices of poetic making, and the role of the poet in various historical and social moments. At Northwestern he has taught classes on sensation in Shakespeare’s theater; poetics from Aristotle to Kant; contemporary refashionings of aesthetics, and many other topics.


Ivy Wilson (Ph.D., Yale) teaches courses on the literatures of the black diaspora, with a particular emphasis on African-American culture. He has published editions on two nineteenth-century African-American poets: James Monroe Whitfield and Albery Allson Whitman. His book Specters of Democracy includes chapters on the poetry of Frances E.W. Harper and Walt Whitman. He has taught courses on African-American poetry and poetics from Phillis Wheatley to hip hop.


Graduate Administrator

Omoyemi (Yemi) Ajisebutu is a Ph.D. student in the Comparative Literary Studies program with a home Department in English. Her research stands at the intersection of narratives around women in Precolonial Nigeria and the Nigerian Diasporic 21st century literature. She is interested in orality and critical theory too. She received an MA in English from New Mexico Highlands University in New Mexico and a B.Ed in English Language/Literature with a minor in Social Studies from the University of Ibadan in Nigeria.