Fellow: Awarded 2015
Field of Study: American Literature
Competition: US & Canada
Lynn Keller is on the faculty of the English Department and the Center for Culture, History and Environment (CHE) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she has taught for more than thirty years. As visiting faculty at Stockholm University in 2014, she gave a series of lectures on which her current project builds. Keller holds a BA from Stanford University and a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. With Alan Golding and Adalaide Morris, she edits the Contemporary North American Poetry Series from the University of Iowa Press.
Keller’s scholarship illuminates the poetry of living writers. Her first book, Re-making It New: Contemporary American Poetry and the Modernist Tradition, examines how the legacies of modernism operate in the work of contemporary American poets. Her next book responds to the outpouring of ambitious, book-length poems written by women during the “second wave” of American feminism, beginning around 1970. Taking a capacious view of the category “long poem,” Forms of Expansion: Recent Long Poems by Women examines a range of extended poems (lyric sequences, epics, innovative serial poems, etc.) reflecting diverse aesthetics as well as varied relations to male models and dominant traditions. With Cristanne Miller she edited a collection of theoretically oriented essays on women’s poetry, Feminist Measures: Sounds in Poetry and Theory. Her most recent book, Thinking Poetry: Readings in Contemporary Women’s Exploratory Poetics examines poetry that is complex not only in the thinking it enacts but also in its innovative compositional strategies. The focal works there– by C. D. Wright, Alice Fulton, Joan Retallack, Rosmarie Waldrop, Cole Swensen, and Myung Mi Kim– enact significant intellectual engagement with challenging issues facing contemporary Americans, and seek ways to give adequate form to ongoing, often chaotic discovery.
Since completing Thinking Poetry, Keller has redirected her teaching and scholarship toward environmental studies and the emerging field of ecocriticism (environmentally focused literary criticism). Her Guggenheim project is a study of how North American poets of the 21st century, especially those with experimentalist leanings, are responding to the environmental challenges of this time in which humans are having such a dramatic, often devastating impact on planetary systems.