Thirty years of teaching

On April 4, 2019, the Kelly Writers House gave me a great send off for my Penn retirement at the end of this academic year. Thanks to Al Filreis and Jessica Lowenthal, and to Susan Bee, for all the organizing. ’Twas a swell time, with BBQ and whiskey and lots of friends, fellow poets, and current and former students. 

There is more online here — including audio tributes by some of those who did not speak in the main program, made the night of the party in PennSound’s Wexler sound studio. 

Orchid Tierney and Chris Mustazza put together an AbFab book, MIXTAPE, with poems, narratives, anecdotes, commentaries, cartoons, apocrypha, and comic tales — pdf here and POD here.

Penn published several related pieces:
•The May/June Penn Gazette (Penn’s alumni magazine) features an interview with me by Daniel Akst.
Penn Current on Near/Miss (Louisa Shepard), October 14, 2018
•Penn School of Arts and Sciences OMNIA: Podcast — “You Can’t Hurt A Poem, And Other Lessons from Charles Bernstein”: full episode.

I started teaching about thirty years ago, just before I turned forty. I’d had very little connection with universities since graduating college. At college, I had hardly taken an English class. I taught my first graduate seminar in the Fall of 1989, a year before being appointed David Gray Professor of Poetry and Letters at SUNY-Buffalo. I moved to Penn in 2003. The syllabi for my classes at Buffalo and Penn are online at the EPC. I’ve directed forty-seven PhD dissertations and served on twenty-five additional PhD committees. It’s been my great fortune to have had the chance to work with these young scholars: I’ve learned more than I have taught. Here is a list of those seventy-two people and their dissertation titles. I am grateful to each one.

Mike Alcott, “1922: Nomadic Ethics and Novelesque Aesthetics” (Committee, Henry Sussman, Chair, Buffalo,1998)

Christopher Alexander, “The logic of earth: Nineteenth-century Precursors to the Poetics of Robert Duncan” (Director, Buffalo, 2008)

Avi Alpert, “Practices of the Global Self: Idealism, Transcendentalism, and Buddhist Modernism in the Era of Colonization” (Committee, Jean-Michel Rabaté, Director, 2014, Penn)

Joel Bettridge, “Reading Consequences: Ethics, Belief, and the Reader in America’s Postwar Avant-Garde” (Director, Buffalo, 2002)

Carla Billitteri, “Substantial Logic and Referential Desire: Realism in the Works of Laura (Riding) Jackson, Charles Olson, and Language Writing” (Director, Buffalo, 2001)

Julia Bloch, “Lyric After Epic: Gender and the Postwar Long Poem” (Committee, Bob Perelman, Director, 2011, Penn)

Elizabeth Burns, “Around and About Elizabeth Bishop: Subversion and Stance” (Committee, Joseph Conte, Director, Buffalo, 1993)

Aliki Caloyeras, “Maternal Modernism: The Politics and Poetics of H.D.’s Birthing Bodies” (Committee, Bob Perelman, Director, 2012)

Ashley Chang, “Sensing Sounding: Close Listening to Experimental Asian American Poetry” (Director, Penn, 2016)

Eung-Gwi Chung, “How to Form: Exploring Poetry as Praxis of Everyday Life, America as Landscape of Language” (Director, Buffalo, 2005)

Alicia Cohen, “Seeing Seeing: Vision and Epistemology in the work of Emily Dickinson, Robert Duncan, Jack Spicer, and Leslie Scalapino” (Director, Buffalo, 2003)

Barbara Cole, “No There There: Gertrude Stein’s Poetics of Negation” (Director, Buffalo, 2006)

Nese Davenot, “Altered States/Other Worlds: Romanticism, Nitrous Oxide, and the Literary Prehistory of Psychedelia” (Director, with Michael Gamer, Penn, 2015)

Thom Donovan, “Sublime responsibilities: Form as ethic” (Director, with Myung Mi Kim, Buffalo, 2009)

Sarah Dowling, “Remote Intimacies: Multilingualism in Contemporary Poetry” (Director, Penn, 2012)

Patrick Durgin, “Indeterminacies and the Poetics of Critical Values” (Director, Buffalo, 2004)

Shonni Enelow, “Method Acting and the Limits of Identity in the Mid-century America” (Director, Penn, 2012)

Logan Esdale, “Paper Routes: Epistolarity and Modern American Poetry” (Director, Buffalo, 2003)

Jonathon Fedors, “Modern American Poetry and the Protestant Establishment,” (Committee, Bob Perelman, Director, 2013)

Tom Fisher, “Poetry’s Forfeiture: The Case of Laura Riding and George Oppen” (Committee, Joseph  Conte, Director, Buffalo, 2000)

Gayle Fornataro, “Beyond Utopia: An exploration of Gendered Textual Spaces and Political Ideals” (Committee, Raymond Federman, Director, Buffalo, 1997)

Kristen Gallagher, “No goal; Or, Potentiality in the Life Writing of Emily Dickinson and Susan Howe” (Committee, Myung Mi Kim, Director, Buffalo, 2005)

Peter Gizzi, “The Collected Lectures of Jack Spicer” (Director, Buffalo, 1996)

Loss Pequeno Glazier, “The Electronic Poetry Center: A Poetics of the Web” (Director, Buffalo, 1996)

Peter Grieco, “Dreams Old and Nascent: Conflict, Continuity, and Change in Working Class Poetry” (Committee, Art Effron, Director, Buffalo, 1993)

Jefferson Hansen, “The edge of the Local Pragmatist Aesthetics and Objectivist Poetry” (Director, Buffalo, 1993)

Fredrik Hertzberg, “Materialities in Translation: Gunnar Bjorling’s Poetry in English” (Director, Buffalo, 2001)

Bruce Holsapple, “The Birth of Imagination: William Carlos Williams” (Committee, Buffalo, Robert Creeley, Director, 1991)

William Howe, “How to Read: or a Collection of Praxical Possibilities” (Director, Buffalo, 2002)

Yunte Huang, “The Poetics of Displacement: Ethnology, Translation, and Intertextual Travel in Twentieth Century American Literature” (Committee, Buffalo, Dennis Tedlock, Director, 1999)

Toshiko Ishihara, “Ran’s notebook and drawing book: Speculations by a Japanese woman on Cultural Differences” (Committee, Mark Shechner, Director, Buffalo, 1993)

Sarah Kerman, “Speaking for Americans: Modernist Voices and Political Representation, 1910–1940” (Director, Penn, Comparative Literature, 2010)

Benjamin Kahan, “Modern American Celibacies, 1886–1969” (Committee, Jean-Michel Rabaté, Director, Penn, 2008)

Gregory Kinzer, “Catalysis: Experimental Poetry and the Sciences” (Committee, Joseph Conte, Director, Buffalo, 2006)

Joel Kuszai, “Facing Reality or Utopian Dreaming: Editorial Collectives as Work-Around for the Boredom of the University” (Director, Buffalo, 2004)

Seunghyeok Kweon, “The Typewriter and Modernist Poetry” (Committee, Joseph Conte, Director, Buffalo, 2002)

Jane Malcolm, “Hard Women, Hard Modernism: Gendering Modernist Difficulty” (Director, Penn, 2009)

Douglas Manson, “Pre-Poetic Precursors: Blake, Patchen, Nichol and the Materials & Ethics of Verbal-Visual Poetry” (Director, Buffalo, 2003)

Steve McCaffery, “Prior to Meaning: The Protosemantic and Poetry” (Director, Buffalo, 1997)

Chris Mustazza, “Speech Labs: Language Experiments, Early Poetry Audio Archives, and the Poetic Record” (Director, Penn, 2019)

Todd Nothstein, “The Civic Self: The Self-Made Man and Citizenship from Franklin to Faulkner” (Committee, Robert Daly, Director, Buffalo, 2005)

Jena Osman, “‘The Inanimate Animate’: Brecht and Contemporary Poetry” (Director, Buffalo, 1997)

Amy Paeth, “State Verse Culture: American Poets Laureate, 1945–2015” (Committee, Penn, Bob Perelman, Director, 2015)

Vaclav Paris, “Everyday Epic: Evolution, Sexuality, and Modernist Narrative” (Committee, Penn, Jean-Michael Rabaté, Director, 2014)

Mark Peters, “Freewriting and Unfreewriting: Using Innovative Writing To Make New Meanings In Composition” (Director, Buffalo, 2002)

Scott Pound, “Textualism: Literary Theory and the Depreciation of Poetry” (Director, Buffalo, 2001)

Katie Price, “‘The Tangential Point’: Pataphysical Practice in Postwar Poetry” (Director, Penn 2014)

Peter Ramos, “Pushing Limits of Language: Ethics and American Literature” (Committee, Buffalo, Irving Massey, Director, 2003)

Ariel Resnikoff, “Home Tongue Earthquake: The Radical Afterlives of Yiddishland” (Director, Penn, 2019)

Linda Russo, “Becoming-Poetic: Women, Gender and Poetic Innovation in ‘New’ American Poetry” (Director, Buffalo, 2004)

Kathy Lou Schultz, “'In the Modern Vein': Afro-Modernist Poetry and Literary History” (Committee, Penn, Bob Perelman, Director, 2006)

Robin Seguy, “Prolegomena to the Automated Analysis of a Bilingual Poetry Corpus, with Particular Reference to an Annotated Edition of The Cantos of Ezra Pound” (Director, Penn, 2016)

Tim Shaner, “Working Form: The Poetics of Writing Work” (Committee, Joseph Conte, Director, Buffalo, 2005)

Chiaki Sekiguchi, “In Touch with the World: Marianne Moore, Objects, Fantasy, and Fashion” (Committee, Stacy Hubbard, Director, Buffalo, 2003)

Rebecca Sheehan, “Totality and the Infinite: Paradoxes of the Visual, Figural, and Linguistic” (Director, Penn, 2008)

Ken Sherwood, “The Audible Word: Sounding the Range of 20th-Century Poetry” (Director, Buffalo, 2001)

Jonathan Skinner, “Ecopoetics: Outsider Poetries of the Twentieth Century” (Director, Buffalo, 2004)

Danny Snelson, “Variable Format: Media Poetics and the Little Database” (Director, Penn, 2015)

Juliana Spahr, “Re Letter and Read Her: The Reader Centered Text in American Literature” (Director, Buffalo, 1995)

Martin Spinelli, “Communication Technology and Literary Community: From Utopia to Paralogy” (Director, Buffalo, 1998)

Eleni Stecopoulos, “Visceral Poetics: Language, Energy, and the Chronic Syndrome of the West” (Director, Buffalo, 2004)

Greg Steirer, “‘Raise the Black Flag’: The Dystopian Aesthetic in 1970s Britain” (Director, with James English, Penn, 2010)

Michelle Strizever, “Visible Texture: Artists’ Books, 1960–2010” (Director, Penn, 2010)

Orchid Tierney, “Materials Poetics: Landfills and Waste Management in Contemporary Literature and Media” (Director, Penn, 2019)

William Tuttle, “The ‘Never Resting Mind’: The Meditative Mode in Twentieth Century American Poetry [Stein, Stevens, Ashbery]” (Director, Buffalo, 1996)

Mark Wallace, “The End of Time: The Gothic Universe in Bowles and Burroughs” (Director, Buffalo, 1994)

Marta Werner, “Quires of light. Emily Dickinson: Scenes of reading, surfaces of writing” (Committee, Buffalo, Susan Howe, Director, 1993)

Caroline Whitbeck, "The Palinodic Strain," (Director, Penn, 2013)

Ellen Whittier: “Concentrated Ground: The Body as Poetic Playspace in Shakespeare, Byron, Chaplin, and Hugo” (Director, Buffalo, 1999)

Elizabeth Willis, “Jael’s Hammer: Pre-Raphaelite Vision and the Apocalypse” (Director, Buffalo, 1993)

Robert Zamsky, “Keeping Time: Music. Lyric, and Temporality in the Work of Gertrude Stein and Nathaniel Mackey” (Committee, Buffalo, Dennis Tedlock, Director, 2002)

Jason Zuzga, “Uncanny World: Envisioning Nature in Documentary” (Director, Penn, 2016)

MA Thesis Director
Buffalo: Brent Cunningham, Amy King, Vincent Gregory, Wendy Kramer, Chandler Lewis, Richard Roundy; committee: Terry Cuddy. Penn: Matt Landis (2007)
SSRC Postdoc Adviser: Buffalo: Christian Bök and Peter Jaeger; Penn: Eric Schmaltz
Fulbright / China Research Council (partial): Li Zhimin, Lianggong Luo

Outside Dissertation Reader:
Eugenia Tsai (1994, Columbia University)
Peter Jaeger (1997, University of Western Ontario)
Kent Lewis (1997, University of Victoria )
Ann Vickery (1997, University of Melbourne)
Andrew Mossin (Temple University)
Christian Bok (1998, York University)
Jeff Derksen (2000, University of Calgary)
Christine Stewart (2005, University of British Columbia)
Astrid Lorange (2013, University of Technology, Sydney, Australia)
Nathaniel Farrell (2013, Columbia University)
Sarah Arkebauer (2019, Columbia)