Eric Keenaghan

Associate Professor

Affiliate Faculty in Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies 

Ph.D. Temple University

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

Humanities 343


On leave until January 2018

Eric Keenaghan has focused his research on the political and ethical dimensions of modernist and cold war poetries. Much of his scholarship concentrates on work by LGBTQ-identified writers from the United States and issues related to collectivism, sexuality, and eroticism, but he also has published widely on canonical high modernism, queer translation, 20th- and 21st-century experimental poetry and fiction by women, and LGBTQ authors worldwide and their work in a variety of forms. He is the author of Queering Cold War Poetry: Ethics of Vulnerability in Cuba and the United States (Ohio State University Press, 2009). He also is an advisory editor for Journal of Modern Literature.   

Currently, he is developing two new critical monographs. The first, The Impersonal Is Political: Late Modernism and the New American Poetry during the New Left Era, examines how cold war poet-activists associated with the antiwar, ecology, feminist, civil rights, black power, and gay liberation movements translated a 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 and that activist poetry can differ from confessional verse or agitprop. Instead, personal politics and the poetry reflecting them often are matters of conditionality since the "private" human subject is bodily and affectively coextensive with its public environs. A second book project, Life, Love, and War: Anarchist Pacifism, Antifascism, and Twentieth-Century American Poetry, explores the archived and published writings of self-identified anarchist and antifascist poets and poet-activists interested in promoting forms of peace. Their pacifist views cover a broad spectrum of possibilities, ranging from "just warism" to "absolute 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."   

He also is editing The Usable Truth and Other Selected Prose by Muriel Rukeyser. This volume recovers poet-activist Muriel Rukeyser's forgotten shorter-form nonfiction--essays, journalism, activist writings, lectures--many of which are uncollected or unpublished. Throughout her career, she integrated her ideas about the arts and sciences with her deep reading in metaphysical and scientific and political philosophies and with her unwavering commitments to peace and antifascism, educational access, and social justice in all matters related to race, gender, class, and religious culture. 

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



Queering Cold War Poetry (Ohio State University Press, 2009) [Preview and order here.]

Select recently published and forthcoming articles and essays:

"The Life of Politics: The Compositional History of The Life of Poetry and Muriel Rukeyser's Changing Appraisal of Emotion and Belief." Textual Practice, projected Spring 2018. Special issue: "Muriel Rukeyser's The Life of Poetry," edited by Catherine Gander. (Forthcoming)

"There Is No Glass Woman: Muriel Rukeyser's Lost Feminist Essay 'Many Keys.'" Introduction to "Many Keys," by Muriel Rukeyser, edited by Keenaghan. Feminist Modernist Studies, vol. 1, nos. 1-2, 2018, pp. 186-204. Special issue: "Toward Feminist Modernisms," edited by Cassandra Laity. (Available online; Print forthcoming) [Access the preprint version through Taylor and Francis Online here.]

"The Impersonal Is Political: On the Living Theatre and William Carlos Williams's Many Loves." The William Carlos Williams Review, vol. 33, nos. 1-2, 2016, pp. 101-27. Special issue: "The New Williams," edited by Jen Phillis and Neri Sandoval. Recipient of the William Carlos Williams Society's Walter Scott Peterson Award for 2016, recognizing the best essay published in the William Carlos Williams Review that year. [Access through Project Muse here.]

"Queer Poetry, Between ‘As Is” and “As If.’” The Cambridge Companion to American Gay and Lesbian Literature, edited by Scott Herring. Cambridge University Press, 2015, pp. 44-58. Volume named Choice Outstanding Academic Title for 2015. [Preview and order volume here.]

"Queer Poetry in the Long Twentieth Century." The Cambridge History of Gay and Lesbian Literature, edited by E.L. McCallum and Mikko Tuhkanen. Cambridge University Press, 2014, pp. 589-606. [Preview and order volume here.]

"Biocracy: Reading Poetic Politics through the Traces of Muriel Rukeyser's Life-Writing." JNT: Journal of Narrative Theory, vol. 43, no. 3, Fall 2013, pp. 258-87. Special issue: "Muriel Rukeyser Centenary Issue," edited by Elisabeth Däumer.  [Access through Project Muse here.]

Select recently published and forthcoming book reviews and review essays:

Review of The Transmutation of Love and Avant-Garde Poetics, by Jeanne Heuving. MLQ (Modern Language Quarterly): A Journal of Literary History, vol. 79, no.1, March 2018, pp.117-21. (Forthcoming)

Review of After Translation: The Transfer and Circulation of Modern Poetics Across the Atlantic, by Ignacio Infante; The World of Langston Hughes: Modernism and Translation in the Americas, by Vera M. Kutzinski; and Modernism and the New Spain: Britain, Cosmopolitan Europe, and Literary History, by Gayle Rogers. Translation Studies, vol. 9, no. 3, Fall 2016, pp. 340-5. [Access through Taylor and Francis Online here.] 

"American Poetry and Physics in the Atomic Age." Review of Physics Envy: American Poetry and Science in the Cold War and After, by Peter Middleton. Contemporary Literature, vol. 57, no. 2, Summer 2016, pp. 284-91.

“The Archive and the Alchemical Will: On Critics’ Historicism and Poets’ Vision in Two Recent Recoveries of H.D.’s and Pound’s Lost Writings.” Review of Ezra Pound’s Eriugena, by Mark Byron; and Within the Walls and What Do I Love, by H.D. (Hilda Doolittle) and edited by Annette Debo. Journal of Modern Literature, vol. 39, no. 3, Spring 2016, 123-40. [Access through JSTOR here.]


Upcoming courses (Spring 2018):

Undergraduate course: Cold War Poetry--The Beats and Black Mountain (AENG 358) [A cultural study of Cold War America and countercultural poetry by such writers as Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, Diane di Prima, LeRoi Jones/Amiri Baraka, Charles Olson, Robert Duncan, Denise Levertov, John Wieners]

Graduate course: Queer Poetry and Politics (AENG 581/AWGS 581) [History of American LGBT+ poetry, c.1960-1990, studied in relationship to homophile politics, gay and lesbian liberation, intersectional politics, and HIV/AIDS activism. Digital archival studies of movement materials and magazine verse, plus poetry anthologies from the respective periods. Featured poets could include Muriel Rukeyser, Paul Goodman, Robert Duncan, Jack Spicer, Stephen Jonas, Allen Ginsberg, Ronald Johnson, Jack Sharpless, John Wieners, Adrienne Rich, Judy Grahn, Audre Lorde, Gloria Anzaldúa, Eileen Myles, Aaron Shurin, Essex Hemphill.]

Select past courses:

Graduate courses: American Lyric Refigured; Modern Imagination and the Poetics of Possibility; The William Carlos Williams Era; American Modernist Poetry; Modernism and Pragmatism 

Undergraduate courses: American Modernist Poetry; Creating Publics [on US public intellectuals] (English Honors); How Sex Tells, How Sex Sells; Queer American Poetry and Politics; The Art of War (Honors College); Introduction to English Studies


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).