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Amy Paeth

2015 Ph.D. Graduate
Dissertation Advisor(s): Bob Perelman
"State Verse Culture: American Poets Laureate, 1945-2015"

Lecturer in Critical Writing, Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing

A.B., English and Creative Writing, Princeton University (2008). M.A., English, University of Pennsylvania (2010). Ph.D., English, University of Pennsylvania (2015). 20th- and 21st-century American literature; poetry and poetics; literature and nationalism; film and popular culture.

My first book, The American Poet Laureate: A History of U.S. Poetry and the State (Columbia University Press, 2023) is the first modern history of the U.S. national poetry office, and argues that the state is the silent center of poetic production after WWII. Drawing from archival research at the Library of Congress and the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, I trace the collaboration of federal bodies (The Library of Congress, The State Department, The Central Intelligence Agency, The National Endowment of the Arts) and private literary organizations (The Poetry Foundation/Poetry Magazine) with mutual patrons (Paul Mellon, Ruth Lilly) as the development of a post-1945 national poetry project—an institutional legacy that links State Department missions during the Cold War to Poets Laureate projects today. The American Poet Laureate contributes to a growing body of institutional and sociological approaches to U.S. literary production in the postwar era, and demonstrates how poetry played a uniquely important, and largely underacknowledged, role in the cultural front of the Cold War.

The American Poet Laureate was awarded the Northeast Modern Language Association (MLA)'s Annual Book Prize, and has received praise from The Times Literary Supplement, The Harvard Review, Choice: the magazine of the Association of College and Research Libraries, and other publications.