Eric Keenaghan

Associate Professor 

Affiliate Faculty with Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies 

Ph.D. Temple University

Poetry Studies, Modernist Studies and Cold War Studies, Political Theory, Queer and Gender Theory

Humanities 343
442-4078 (email preferred)

On leave until January 2018

Eric Keenaghan has focused his research on the queer redefinition of politics, individualism, and eroticism in modernist and cold war poetries. He is the author of Queering Cold War Poetry: Ethics of Vulnerability in Cuba and the United States (Ohio State University Press, 2009). His articles, poetics essays, and review essays have appeared or are forthcoming in several journals, including: Journal of Modern LiteratureTextual Practice, modernism/modernityWilliam Carlos Williams ReviewJournal of Narrative Theory, Contemporary Literature, Jacket2The Translator, Translation Studies, GLQ: Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studiespostmodern culture, and elsewhere. He has written entries on "gay poetry" and "queer poetry" for the most recent edition of the Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics, 4th edition (Princeton UP, 2012). His essays on LGBTQ+ poetry and poetics also have appeared in The Cambridge History of Gay and Lesbian Literature (Cambridge UP, 2014) and The Cambridge Companion to Gay and Lesbian American Literature (Cambridge UP, 2015). He is also a contributing author to several critical collections, including: Ronald Johnson: Life and Works (National Poetry Foundation, 2008); The Other Emerson (Minnesota, 2010); [RE:]Working the Ground: Essays on the Late Writings of Robert Duncan (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011); and other volumes. His original poetry has appeared in numerous literary magazines, as well as the anthology In/Filtration: An Anthology of Innovative Poetry from the Hudson River Valley (Station Hill of Barrytown, 2015).

Currently, Professor Keenaghan is researching and writing two new critical monographs. The first, with the working title The Impersonal Is Political: The New Left Meets the New American Poetry, examines how cold war poet-activists associated with the antiwar, ecology, feminist, civil rights, black power, and gay liberation movements translated a language and poetic practice of modernist "impersonality" into their activist ethos. Consequently, their work valuably reminds us that personal politics are not rooted exclusively in private experience. Instead, personal politics are matters of conditionality since the "private" human subject is bodily and affectively coextensive with its public environs. Their writings add a touch of humanity--what Julian Beck of the Living Theatre once referred to as "personism"--to situated politics, thus refiguring contemporary theory's posthumanist tendencies that might risk dehumanization. Subjects of this study include: Paul Goodman, Lew Welch, William Carlos Williams and the Living Theatre, Muriel Rukeyser, Walter Lowenfels, Gwendolyn Brooks, Amiri Baraka, Robert Duncan, Denise Levertov, Allen Ginsberg, Diane di Prima, Ronald Johnson, and John Wieners.

A second book project, tentatively titled Life, Love, and War: Anarchist Pacifism and Twentieth-Century American Poetry, explores the archived and published writings of self-identified anarchist poets and poet-activists interested in promoting forms of peace, falling upon a broad spectrum ranging from "just warism" to "pacifism." These poets' experimentation with form and subject matter can inform our ideas about how, in a time of war, art and poetry still has a social role and political life, even if--as W.H. Auden famously claimed--"poetry makes nothing happen." Subjects of this study include: Lola Ridge, Kenneth Rexroth, Kenneth Patchen, Paul Goodman, Robert Duncan, Allen Ginsberg, and Diane di Prima.

Professor Keenaghan also is editing The Usable Truth and Other Selected Prose by Muriel Rukeyser. Rukeyser is the subject of several pieces of his scholarship and a key influence on his own poetics. This volume recovers her forgotten shorter-form nonfiction--essays, journalism, activist writings, lectures--many of which have remained unpublished. Over the course of her writing career, Rukeyser organically integrated her ideas about the arts and sciences with her deep reading in metaphysical and scientific and political philosophies and her unwavering (though sometimes thorny) commitments to peace and anti-fascism, to educational access, and to social justice in all matters related to race, gender, class, and religious culture. 

Professor Keenaghan teaches graduate and undergraduate courses on modernist poetry, cold war and contemporary poetry, literature of the Left and new social movements, queer and gender studies, political philosophy, and literary theory.  

Click here for a complete vita.

Click here for an Étude on Rachel Blau DuPlessis' Drafts (published in Jacket2).

Click here for selections from Love Letters to My Husband (original poems, published in Barzakh). 

Click here for an interview on Emerson and commonality (recorded for Against the Grain, broadcast on KPFA and WBAI).