Stephanie Burt

Poet, Essayist, Critic

Readings &
Lecture Topics
  • Beyond Dungeons and Dragons
  • Schools for Mutants
  • Nations X
  • How to Write a Book About How to Read Poems
  • Poetry and New Media
  • What Is Trans Lit?
  • Poetry and, as, and Versus Song
  • An Evening with Stephanie Burt

Biography

“Burt is one of the leading poet-critics of her own emerging generation, turning out an astonishing amount of terrific review-based criticism.” —Publishers Weekly

Stephanie Burt is a poet, literary critic, and professor with nine published books, including two critical books on poetry and three poetry collections. Her essay collection Close Calls with Nonsense (Graywolf Press, 2009) was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Her next poetry collection is We Are Mermaids (Graywolf, 2022). Her other works include Advice from the Lights: Poems (Graywolf, 2017); Don’t Read Poetry (Basic Books, 2019); The Poem is You: 60 Contemporary American Poems and How to Read Them (Harvard UP, 2016); Belmont (2013); The Art of the Sonnet (Harvard University Press, 2010); Something Understood: Essays and Poetry for Helen Vendler (University of Virginia Press, 2009); The Forms of Youth: Adolescence and 20th Century Poetry (Columbia University Press, 2007); Parallel Play: Poems (Graywolf, 2006); Randall Jarrell on W. H. Auden (University Press, 2005); Randall Jarrell and His Age (Columbia University Press, 2002); and Popular Music (Center for Literary Publishing, 1999).

Burt grew up around Washington, DC, and received an A.B. from Harvard in 1994 and a Ph.D. in English from Yale in 2000. She taught at Macalester College for several years before becoming a professor of English at Harvard University.

The New York Times called Burt “one of the most influential poetry critics of her generation.” The recipient of a 2016 Guggenheim Fellowship, her writing has appeared in the New York Times Book Review, the London Review of Books, the Times Literary Supplement, the Believer, and the Boston Review.

DESCRIPTIONS OF A FEW ACTIVE LECTURES

Beyond Dungeons and Dragons
A talk about tabletop role-playing games: what makes these games (the most famous is Dungeons and Dragons, but you can do a LOT of other things with them) worthwhile, significant, creative, useful in teaching, ultimately their own form of art, with their own communities, creative accomplishments, and community norms? (The podcast is Team-Up Moves. Give it a listen!)

Schools for Mutants
X-Men stories are also, sometimes, stories about children and teenagers, students and teachers, and the educational institutions that serve– or fail to serve– kids with special gifts and special needs. What do these stories tell us about real and fictional gifted and talented kids, and about the history of special education and disability education, and about the relationship among these categories, in real schools and school systems and in popular storytelling? What if the X-Men could show us how gifted education and special (needs) education are sijmilar, or The Same, and ask when and why special kids need special schools?

Nations X
X-Men comics famously offer allegories for minority groups but they also consider nationalism and state formation: when does a group want, or need, or create, or defend, or give up, its own territory, with diplomats and a capital and an attempted monopoly on the use of force? This lecture (part of a book on the X-Men) looks at stories in which Marvel’s mutants attempt to create or re-create their own nation, with cross-cultural parallels (apparently deliberate on the writers’ part) to Israel-Palestine, to North American Native nations, to 19th century Romantic nationalisms in Ireland, Poland and elsewhere, and to the metaphorical “nations” formed by queer, trans, and disabled activists.

Short Bio

Stephanie Burt is a poet, literary critic, and professor with nine published books, including two critical books on poetry and three poetry collections. Her essay collection Close Calls with Nonsense was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Her other works include We Are Mermaids; Advice from the LightsThe Poem is You: 60 Contemporary American Poems and How to Read Them; The Art of the Sonnet; Something Understood: Essays and Poetry for Helen Vendler; The Forms of Youth: Adolescence and 20th Century Poetry; Parallel Play: Poems; Randall Jarrell on W. H. Auden; and Randall Jarrell and His Age. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times Book Review, the London Review of Books, the Times Literary Supplement, The Believer, and the Boston Review.

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