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Indiana University Bloomington

Nikki Skillman

Nikki Skillman

Assistant Professor

Ph.D. Harvard University, 2012
M.A. Harvard University
B.A. Brown University

My research and teaching focus on modern and contemporary poetry in English, especially American poetry since World War II. I am particularly interested in recent poets who use the special resources of their genre to ask very old philosophical questions about knowledge, virtue, and aesthetics. In my first book, The Lyric in the Age of the Brain, I explore how poets writing since the cognitive revolution have reframed the timeless problem of body and mind, at once cultivating and critiquing our tendency to regard the mind as a part of nature—as mechanistic, as chemically and evolutionarily determined, and as an object of science. I argue that the discourses of mind science, in ratifying and promoting physiological accounts of inner life, have transformed how we imagine the deepest emotional and intellectual sources of poetry, and that American poetry's themes, forms, and very self-conception have adapted in response. The project has intensified and broadened my related interests in the tense, inextricable relationship between scientific and humanistic perspectives in literary aesthetics and criticism, in embodied and environmental frames of reference within twentieth-century poetry, and in eroticism, spirituality, and philosophy of mind in the long history of poetry in English.

Recent Courses

L357: Twentieth-Century American Poetry
L260: Introduction to Advanced Literary Interpretation
L354: Twentieth-Century British Poetry
L480: Lyric and Society in the 1960’s
L617: Modern Poetry and the Problem of Feeling
L205: Introduction to Poetry

Selected Publications (click images for more information)

The Lyric in the Age of the BrainThe Lyric in the Age of the Brain (Harvard University Press, 2016)