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Charles Bernstein

Donald T. Regan Professor Emeritus of English and Comparative Literature

Curriculum Vitae

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Charles Bernstein taught poetry and poetics, with an emphasis on modernist and contemporary art, aesthetics, and performance. HIs web CV links to poems, essays, and books. He retired from Penn on June 30, 2019. 

Bernstein has published five collections of essays — Pitch of Poetry (Chicago, 2016), Attack of the Difficult Poems: Essays and Inventions (Chicago, 2011), My Way: Speeches and Poems (Chicago, 1999), A Poetics (Harvard, 1992), and Content's Dream: Essays 1975-1984. His books of poetry include Near/Miss (Oct. 2018),  Recalculating (Chicago, 2013),  All the Whiskey in Heaven: Selected Poems (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), Girly Man (Chicago, 2006), With Strings (Chicago, 2001), and Republics of Reality: 1975 - 1995 (Sun & Moon, 2000).  His libretto Shadowtime, for composer Brian Ferneyhough, was published in 2005 by Green Integer; it was performed as part of the 2005 Lincoln Center Festival. Bernstein is the editor of several collections, including: American Poetry after 1975 (Duke University Press / special issue of boundary, 2009), Close Listening: Poetry and the Performed Word (Oxford, 1999), The Politics of Poetic Form: Poetry and Public Policy (Roof, 1990), and the poetics magazine L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E, whose first issue was published in 1978. He is editor of the Electronic Poetry Center and co-director (with Al Flireis) of PennSound.

He has collaborated with painters Susan Bee, Mimi Gross, Amy Sillman, Francie Shaw, and Richard Tuttle on several artist's books and projects. In 2001, he curated Poetry Plastique, with Jay Sanders,  a show of visual and sculptural poetry at the Marianne Boesky Gallery in New York. He has writtern libretti for Ben Yarmolinsky, Anne LeBarron, Dean Drummond, and Feryneyhough. 

Bernstein, who was born in 1950, grew up on the upper West Side of Manhattan and attended the Bronx High School of Science. He graduated from Harvard College, after which he worked for many years as a freelance medical/healthcare writer. From 1989 to 2003, he taught at the State University of New York at Buffalo, where he was co-founder and Director of the Poetics Program and a SUNY Distinguished Professor. He has been the recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the New York Foundation for the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Arts, and of the Roy Harvey Pearce/Archive for New Poetry Prize of the University of California, San Diego; for lifetime contribution to poetry and scholarship. In 2006 he was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2015 he was awared the Münster Prize for International Poetry and the Janus Pannnious Grand Prize for Poetry. In 2019, he received the Bollingen Prize for American Poetry, for lifetime achievement and Near/Miss.

For more information go to Charles Bernstein's author page at the Electronic Poetry Center, his Penn home page, which includes full syllabi of all his Penn courses; note also his web log



Articles and Book Chapters

"FROM Artifice of Absorption" Postmodern American Poetry: A Norton Anthology (2013)
"Introjective Verse" Postmodern American Poetry: A Norton Anthology (2013)

News & Events


Doctoral Dissertations Chaired


Chris Mustazza "Speech Labs: Language Experiments, Early Poetry Audio Archives, and the Poetic Record"
Ariel Resnikoff "The Radical Afterlives of Yiddishland"
Orchid Tierney "Materials Poetics: Landfills and Waste Management in Contemporary Literature and Media"


Ashley Chang "Sensing Sounding: Close Listening to Experimental Asian American Poetry"
Jason Zuzga "Uncanny World: Envisioning Nature in Documentary"


Neşe Lisa Devenot "Altered States/Other Worlds: Romanticism, Nitrous Oxide, and the Literary Prehistory of Psychedelia"
Daniel Snelson "Variable Format: Media Poetics and the Little Database "


Katie L. Price "'The Tangential Point': Pataphysical Practice in Postwar Poetry"


Sarah Dowling "Remote Intimacies: Multilingualism in Contemporary Poetry"
Shoshana Enelow "Method Acting and the Limits of Identity in the Mid-century America"


Sarah Kerman "Speaking for Americans: Modernist Voices and Political Representation, 1910-1940"
Greg Steirer "‘Raise the Black Flag’: The Neoliberal Aesthetic in 1970s Britain"
Michelle Strizever "Visible Texture: Artists' Books, 1960–2010"


Jane Malcolm "Hard Women, Hard Modernism: Gendering Modernist Difficulty"


Rebecca A. Sheehan "Totality and the Infinite: Paradoxes of the Visual, Figural and Linguistic"

Courses Taught

fall 2018

ENGL 069.401 Echopoetics  
ENGL 774.401 Poetics "BLANK" Seminar  

spring 2018

ENGL 288.401 Postwar American Poetry  

fall 2017

ENGL 111.401 Experimental Poetry  

spring 2017

spring 2016

ENGL 262.401 American Poetry post 1975  
ENGL 269.401 Modernist American Poetry  

fall 2015

ENGL 111.401 Experimental Writing  

spring 2015

ENGL 288.401 Postwar American Poetry  

spring 2014

ENGL 111.401 Experimental Writing  
ENGL 589.401 The Pitch of Poetry  

fall 2013

spring 2013

spring 2012

ENGL 111.401 Experimental Writing  

spring 2011

ENGL 111.401 Experimental Writing  

fall 2010

ENGL 062.401 20th Century Poetry  

spring 2010

ENGL 111.401 Experimental Writing  

fall 2009

ENGL 288.401 Postwar American Poetry  

spring 2009

ENGL 111.401 Experimental Writing  

spring 2008

ENGL 111.301 Experimental Writing  

fall 2007

spring 2007

spring 2006

ENGL 062.401 Twentieth Century Poetry  

fall 2005

spring 2005

ENGL 774.401 Textual Conditions  

fall 2004

spring 2004

fall 2003