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Indiana University Bloomington

Nikki Skillman

Nikki Skillman



Assistant Professor

Ph.D. Harvard University, 2012
M.A. Harvard University, 2007
B.A. Brown University, 2004

My research and teaching focus on Anglophone poetry of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, especially the American lyric 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, and in works that make compelling arguments in and through form. In my first book, The Lyric in the Age of the Brain, I investigate how contemporary 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. This 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 modern and contemporary poetry, in the literary lives of non-human animals, in theories of memory and textuality, and in eroticism, spirituality, and philosophy of mind in the long history of poetry in English.