How might we understand the at times fraught, at times generative relationship between poetry and criticism?

What does it take for poetry to be, as Matthew Arnold proclaimed, “a criticism of life”, or as Audre Lorde insisted, “a vital necessity… toward survival and change?” And what steps must we take to, in the words of Adrienne Rich, “enter an old text from a new critical direction”?

How might epigraphs function as critical measures of the poem which follows? Is there a different rhythm for reading reviews in the same magazine as we encounter poems? How does the poet-critic negotiate the demands of both roles in relation? And what work can poetry criticism do to bring about cultural awareness and even change?

One day symposium

Maynooth University, 21st March 2022.


Our chiasmus takes account of the symbiosis that exists between poetry and criticism, seeking to explore the reciprocity and tensions therein. Poems such as Alexander Pope’s An Essay on Criticism (1711), Anne Carson’s Glass Essay (1994), W.H. Auden’s The Sea and The Mirror: A Commentary on Shakespeare’s The Tempest (1944), and Vahni Capildeo’s reviews-in-verse in Skin Can Hold (2019) melt the distinctions we usually make between verse and prose, poetry and criticism, into air. Essays such as Sandeep Parmar’s ‘Not a British Subject: Race and Poetry in the UK’ (2015) and ‘Still Not a British Subject: Race and UK Poetry’ point to the work to be done in addressing the structures of whiteness in Anglophone poetry criticism, and “expanding the definition of innovative or avant-garde to account for challenges to the expressive and individual lyric mode posed by poets of colour.”


Whatever the relationship between poetry and criticism, it is one of vital importance, shaping how poems are written and received, canons formed, interrogated, and reformed, and poetic energies unleashed in both verse and prose.

This one-day symposium on March 21st at Maynooth University, Ireland, seeks to address such questions, and more, bringing together scholars working on poetry, poetics, literary studies, and other relevant areas. We especially welcome work from BAME/BIPOC scholars, poets and writers.

We are honoured to host Professor Sandeep Parmar and Dr Mary-Jean Chan as our joint plenary speakers.

While we hope this symposium will be in person (abiding by the Covid-19 measurements required by the Government of Ireland, which includes mandatory mask-wearing), we reserve the right to pivot online in the interests of public safety.

Please send us an abstract along with a brief biography to Dr Karl O’Hanlon and Dr Catherine Gander at by January 15th 2022.

Possible topics might include, but are not limited to:


  • Critical poetic forms (e.g. poetic essays, odes and palinodes, elegies, epistles, parody, burlesque, reviews-in-verse)
  • Public-facing critical cultures (platforms, media, audience)
  • Poetry criticism and race
  • Poetry criticism and gender
  • Poetry criticism and ‘craft’
  • Poetry responding to criticism and vice versa
  • The social function of poetry
  • Reviewing and rhetoric: critical arguments in the ‘poetry wars’
  • Canon formation, occlusion and marginalisation
  • The role of the poet-critic
  • Lyric subjectivity and new lyric studies
  • The roles of various reviewing platforms
  • Literary politics, self-fashioning and critical reputations
  • Prose criticism and style

Get Started


‘Trauma and Naturalism in the Later Novels of Toni Morrison and Philip Roth’

Dr Alan Gibbs

The IAAS was honoured to host Dr Alan Gibbs for the 2021 W. A. Emmerson lecture on June 2nd. 

The lecture was delivered online, followed by a lively and illuminating Q&A. It can be watched back via our YouTube channel. 

Many thanks again to Dr Gibbs for such a fantastic lecture!

Watch the lecture



The IAAS is a proud sponsor of #Douglassweek, a week-long series of special events and activities celebrating Frederick Douglass’s trip to Ireland in 1845. All events are free and online, and information, including registration, can be found at



#Douglassweek is the brainchild of Dr Caroline Schroeter, and the result of over a year’s work by a dedicated team of scholars, including the IAAS’s own Dr Schroeter, Dr Tim Groenland, and Sarah McCreedy.

Job Description 

The Department of English wishes to appoint a Lecturer in Literatures and Cultures of the Black Atlantic whose research specialism falls within the period from the abolition of slavery to Black Lives Matter. The appointment will run from 1 September 2021. The successful candidate will be able to demonstrate a record of excellence in teaching and research with potential for future grant capture. We are particularly interested in candidates with specialisms in African-American, black British or Caribbean writing. In the first year of the post, teaching is likely to include the following modules: ‘Reading Poetry’, ‘US Slavery and the Literary Imagination’, ‘Intellectuals of the Black Atlantic’ and other teaching in American and modern literature. Hereafter, the postholder will be encouraged to develop Undergraduate and MA modules relating to their own areas of specialism. The postholder will also play a full part in pastoral care as a personal tutor, in administration and dissertation supervision. They will be responsible to the Head of Department. 
Our ambition is to work together to create a more inclusive environment at King’s and in the English Department. We particularly encourage applications from members of groups with protected characteristics that have been marginalized on any grounds enumerated under the Equality Act.



for further details and to apply. 

It is with no small amount of sadness that we can now confirm IAAS2020 will not run on 3-4 April.
Given the situation with COVID-19, we could not ethically or intellectually justify going ahead with the conference under the current circumstances.
We are hoping to reschedule the conference for November, to run in conjunction with the PG conference as a large, group effort of celebration and solidarity. We will let you know more about this in due course.
If you would still like to be a part of the conference, please bear with us.
If you require a refund, please get in touch via the conference gmail.

With heartfelt thanks for your understanding and your collegiality.

Catherine Gander and the IAAS2020 team.


I’m sure many of you are concerned about COVID-19 and its implications for international and domestic travel, and the impact it will have on the IAAS2020 conference, ‘Counter-narratives and Hidden Histories’, taking place 3-4 April at Maynooth University.

Maynooth University is following HSE guidelines, which can be found here: The risk of catching the Coronavirus in Ireland is low, there is currently no restriction on travel into and out of Ireland, and there have been no reported cases or potential cases of the virus at Maynooth.

We will keep the conference page updated, but for now and the foreseeable future, the University is business as usual, and the conference is going ahead.

If circumstances change, and the University moves to cancel the conference, then refunds will be available on accommodation booked on campus, and on registration. If any delegate is travelling from a country that imposes a travel ban, then a refund will also be made.

We are currently looking into video link options for those delegates who cannot now travel to us, and hope to have more information on this shortly.

All the very best,

Catherine Gander and the IAAS2020 team.

By Catherine Gander

In January of this year, I was awarded some money by the Irish Association for American Studies towards my travel to Austin, Texas, to present at the annual MLA convention. Funds are extremely limited at my institution for Arts and Humanities scholars to perform research, and without this bursary, I would not have been able to make the trip. I remain extremely grateful to the IAAS for its continuing support of scholars (established, early career, and graduate), and I owe particular debts of gratitude to the committee members for their enduring professionalism, kindness, and hard work. The IAAS is an association of which I am very proud to be a member (and to serve on a sub-committee), and I would urge people who may be considering membership to sign up. You won’t regret it!

I realise this report is rather late after the event. This is due to a number of reasons – not least the fact that, together with Philip McGowan and other staff at QUB, I was co-organising the IBAAS conference in April, and then organising a double panel at the biennial conference of the EAAS in Constanta, Rumania soon afterwards.  Now, as the dust has settled from the conference trotting, the examining, the marking and board meetings, I am very happy to have some space to report not only on my experience at the MLA, but on the multiple benefits of the travel bursary.

life of poetry

My panel at the MLA was a roundtable discussion, organised and chaired by Dr Rowena Kennedy-Epstein (University of Bristol), on Muriel Rukeyser’s The Life of Poetry (1949). Rukeyser’s remarkable book is difficult to describe succinctly because it refuses classification. A cross-disciplinary treatise on the importance of poetry to social and personal life (and an examination of the ongoing fear of poetry that inhibits them), it takes in and makes meet elements of philosophy, science, pragmatism, poetics, aesthetics, the arts (including music, painting, photography and theatre), politics, protest, history, and literary lineages – to name just a selection of topics that Rukeyser addresses. The panel was named ‘(Re)considering Muriel Rukeyser’s The Life of Poetry’, and was selected as a ‘special panel’ under the convention’s Presidential Theme of ‘Literature and Its Publics: Past, Present and Future’. Alongside me were other eminent Rukeyser scholars: Rowena Kennedy-Epstein (Bristol) Elisabeth Däumer (Eastern Michigan), Eric Keenaghan (Albany, SUNY), Stefania Heim (Duke), Cecily Parks (Texas State), Hadji Bakara (Chicago). Among the topics discussed at the session and well into the delicious Mexican lunch that followed it (Austin is a wonderful city if you’re a foodie), were pragmatist aesthetics and word-image relations (the basis of my own paper), eco-poetics and an ethics of responsibility (subjects explored by Elisabeth Däumer and Cecily Parks), the refugee crisis and the poet as advocate for international human rights (the timeliness of which was highlighted by Hadji Bakara), feminism and form (two aspects unpicked by Rowena Kennedy-Epstein and Stefania Heim: the former in relation to a counter-canon of poetic and political ideologies related to gender; the latter from the perspective of a ‘feminine poetics of war’), and the process of composition and revision of Rukeyser’s lectures that eventually made up the Life of Poetry, in the context of a Cold War ‘power culture’ (unearthed and delineated by Eric Keenaghan). You will find more information on the panel, and on Rukeyser scholarship, here.

final coverApart from having the chance to network internationally, to disseminate my research in the US and beyond, to visit the Harry Ransom Centre after the convention to carry out some crucial research for a new project (the HRC is on campus at the University of Texas, Austin, and an invaluable resource for scholars of American literature) and to connect, and re-connect with my fellow Rukeyser scholars, I was finally able to meet Bill Rukeyser in person – Muriel’s son, who had been so kind and accommodating when I was publishing my monograph on Rukeyser. Bill and I talked animatedly and at length about his mother, our mutual friends and acquaintances (Muriel Rukeyser’s influence stretched far and wide), and about his love for Ireland. Bill was a photojournalist in Northern Ireland during the Troubles and lived in the street next to mine for a time (with Rukeyser, coincidences never cease – I didn’t subtitle my book ‘the poetics of connection’ for nothing). Some of his images can be found here.

The Rukeyser scholars make a meal of it.
The Rukeyser scholars make a meal of it.

I’m pleased to say that since the MLA session, I’ve been able to secure a special issue of the journal Textual Practice arising from the event.  The collection of essays (publication date TBC), co-edited by myself and Rowena Kennedy-Epstein, will attend to the complexities and legacies of Rukeyser’s seminal and still essential text, offering a real intervention not only in Rukeyser studies, in American Studies, and in the study of American poetry, but also in scholarship addressing the role of the public intellectual, the place of poetry in times of crisis, and the shaping of a cultural consciousness. The featured scholars will bring The Life of Poetry into the present day, emphasising its continuing importance to current literary, cultural and political debates, and situating it as the forerunner of contemporary innovations by the likes of Claudia Rankine, Susan Howe and Jen Bervin, as well as the recent and controversial text The Hatred of Poetry (2016) by Ben Lerner (which annoyingly, but perhaps not surprisingly, fails to mention Rukeyser’s book).

A huge thanks again to the IAAS for making all this possible.


Canterbury Christ Church University – School of Humanities


Applications are invited for the post of Reader/Professor in American Studies. We are looking for an exceptional scholar and academic leader to lead and develop our American Studies programme at both undergraduate and postgraduate level, and develop our research capacity as we approach REF2020.

The Role

The post holder will be required to provide academic leadership in terms of building research capacity, developing and directing our undergraduate and postgraduate programmes, and expanding our range of North American partnerships across the School of Humanities. The post holder will be expected to make a strong personal contribution to the research and teaching culture of the School of Humanities and a strong personal submission to REF2020.


You will already be or have the potential to develop into an outstanding academic leader in terms of both research and teaching. You will have a 3*/4* research profile, experience of external funding applications, of programme design and management, and of working within a strategic framework. Applications are particularly welcomed from scholars working in the area of modern or contemporary American literature and/or culture.

Additional Information

This post comes with excellent benefits and an opportunity to work in an enthusiastic, vibrant and friendly department within walking distance of the Canterbury City Centre.

Start date for applications: 29 Oct 2015

Closing date for applications: 21 Dec 2015

Interviews are to be held: w/c 25 Jan 2016

How to apply

To apply online or gain further details about this post please visit our Vacancies page:

To apply online, please click the ‘Apply for this job’ button below. To gain further details about this post please visit our Vacancies page:

Please note, Canterbury Christ Church University reserve the right to bring the closing date of this position forward where a high volume of applications are received.

For posts of this nature you will be required to fill in the main details section as well as upload your CV and any supporting documents.

Informal enquiries to Dr David Grummitt, Head of the School of Humanities ( , 01227 78252901227 782529).

The Irish Journal of Gothic and Horror Studies is currently seeking submissions for Issue #15, to be published in late Summer 2016.

The Irish Journal of Gothic and Horror Studies is an annual, scholarly, peer-reviewed, open-access journal focusing on all aspects of the gothic and horror genres. Article submissions should be 5-7000 words and must follow the MHRA style guide. Reviews of fiction, scholarly books, films, television programmes, conferences, and new-media texts, as well as relevant interviews, should be no more than 1000 words in length.

Article Deadline: 1st March 2016 Review Deadline: 1st May 2016

See for previous issues (Issues 1-13 can be found in The Vault).

Please email Dara Downey and Niall Gillespie at with all submissions and enquiries, including an up-to-date list of books available for review. Please note that books are allocated on an ongoing basis, and it may not therefore be possible to grant your first choice.

Tate Liverpool, Auditorium

Friday 9 October 2015, 11.0017.00

During the late 1950s and early 1960s, Tate’s collection and display of twentieth century art from the United States was its first move beyond the bounds of British and Western European art. As such it might now be understood as the inaugural step in an ongoing process of strategic internationalisation. Like many other modern and contemporary museums, Tate has in recent years expanded a North Atlantic–centred canon in order to produce a multi-centred global history of art, correcting past oversights and omissions. Despite these later geographical expansions to the art-historical reach of the museum, the art of the United States retains a distinct primacy. In line with its central position in post-war history, it both inherits the advantages of that stable foundation, and invites a process of revision in which the very idea of an American art is subjected to various spatial, linguistic and political expansions.

At a moment when the value of embracing a more diverse geographical and critical terrain has become widely accepted, this one-day event returns to the context of post-war American art with the aim of reconsidering its place within the museum and the academy.

Blind Spots is convened in the context of two parallel exhibitions at Tate Liverpool, each deploying a contrasting curatorial strategy in order to re-approach art and artists that might be considered to be canonical. Using artist Glenn Ligon’s perspective as its guide,Encounters and Collisions revisits the history of post-war American art in order to create a personal museum that emphasises queer and African-American experiences while acting as a subjective reading of major movements such as minimalism, abstract expressionism, and pop. Jackson Pollock: Blind Spots meanwhile acts to restore doubt, inconsistency and complexity to the trajectory of an artist widely taken to be the very personification of the geopolitical dominance of abstract expressionism in the Cold War era.

The symposium will conclude with a drinks reception and entry to the exhibitions.
Keynote: Professor Darby English (University of Chicago; The Museum of Modern Art)
Speakers: Jo Applin (University of York); Jonah Westerman (Tate Research); Nadja Millner-Larsen (Goldsmiths, University of London); Zoe Whitley (Tate/University of Central Lancashire); Amy Tobin (University of York); Stefanie Kogler (University of Essex)
Convened by Isobel Whitelegg, Research Curator, Tate Liverpool/LJMU; Alex Taylor, Terra Foundation Research Fellow in American Art, Tate Research; Sonya Dyer, Curator, Public Programmes, Tate Britain/Modern; and Stephanie Straine, Assistant Curator, Tate Liverpool. This symposium is supported by Liverpool John Moores University and forms part of Tate’s Refiguring American Art 1945–80 research project, supported by the Terra Foundation for American Art.

This event is related to the exhibition Jackson Pollock: Blind Spots and Glenn Ligon: Encounters and Collisions