Research Agenda

My research brings the theoretical, political, and aesthetic concerns of queer studies to bear on postwar and contemporary U.S. lyric poetry. Though famously (some might say notoriously) omnivorous, queer studies has paid, with some notable exceptions, relatively little attention to the lyric poem after 1945. Underlying my research agenda as a whole is a conviction that these two disciplines—queer studies and postwar lyric studies—have much to gain from more intimate contact.

My scholarship is also informed by my longstanding interest in archives and primary materials. The postwar moment saw an explosion of small-scale and DIY print cultures in the United States. This expansion only accelerated over the following decades, as new technologies—from the mimeo, to the Xerox machine, to the early blogosphere, to Tumblr—continued to lower barriers to publication. The preservation and analysis of this wide array of print and digital ephemera is a crucial part of understanding the last half-century of poetic production.

Current Projects

Queer Occasions: Scene and Series in Postwar American Poetry

What are poems for? This project uses the genre of the occasional poem—the oft-dismissed terrain of wedding toasts, greeting card verse, and commissioned accoutrements of state pageantry—to explore how queer U.S. poets at mid-century used their poems to achieve certain social, political, and erotic aims. Focusing on the New York School and some fellow travelers, Queer Occasions aims to develop a reading practice attentive to the compositional forces that motivate the writing, circulation, and reading of poems. In other words, the project explores not only what may have occasioned a given poem—the circumstances which shaped and propelled its writing—but also, the various effects it has the capacity to occasion as it circulates among readers in various times and places.

Intoxicating Intimacies: Proximity and Contact in Contemporary American Poetry

Building on the arguments of my first project, Queer Occasions, Intoxicating Intimacies turns to the work of contemporary poets to explore how and to what ends they put their poems to use. At the center of the project is the intersection of the lyric—a classic technology for mediating intimacy—and the digital mediums in which much of our intimate exchanges now take place. As the available modes of establishing contact and closeness with others evolve and expand, how have poets rethought the utility of the lyric as a way of establishing proximity (and distance) with those whom they address?

Point and Snap: The Photography of James Schuyler

Beginning in the late 1960s, the poet James Schuyler began to experiment with the medium of photography. These photographs often mirror the subject matter and style of his poems—flowers, interiors, and views framed by windowpanes—and are a powerful complement to his written work. This projected volume collects 80-some photographs by Schuyler, currently held among the Schuyler papers at the University of California, San Diego Special Collections, accompanied by essays exploring the relationship between Schuyler’s efforts as a poet and as a photographer, as well as Schuyler’s place in the history of U.S. art photography.