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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 English, Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing

Office Hours

Wednesdays 12-2pm & by appointment

McNeil Building 116 (3718 Locust Walk)


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 project, State Verse Culture: American Poets Laureate, is forthcoming from Columbia University Press (2020) and was awarded the Northeast Modern Language Association (MLA)'s Annual Book Prize (2018). It 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 Society of America, 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. State Verse Culture 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.