Dr Allison Neal, Trinity




Biographical Information

I am a Junior Research Fellow at Trinity College. I came to Cambridge after completing my PhD at the University of California, Berkeley in 2019. In 2022, I was a Wallace Fellow at I Tatti, the Harvard Center for Italian Renaissance Studies. I currently teach at Utrecht University.

Research Interests

I work on twentieth-century American literature, with a special focus on poetry and poetics and media studies. More broadly, my research explores the connection between literature, technology, and other art forms. 

My first book manuscript, Mass Vernacular: American Poetic Voice in the Era of Global Broadcast, situates the poetry of Marianne Moore, W.H. Auden, Frank O’Hara, and Adrienne Rich in a broad institutional and technological soundscape. Throughout, I trace how poetry intersects with both specific sound technologies, like the phonograph, the telephone, the radio, and the tape recorder, and a variety of vocal practices and institutions, including elocution instruction, live poetry readings, and radio-based forms of cultural diplomacy. Routing their poetry through modern circuits of communication, I argue, twentieth-century poets created a paradoxically intimate and global “mass vernacular,” as they envisioned lyric voices circulating in ways similar to other official and mass voices. By bridging the figurative and material dimensions of voice, this book seeks to restore the sound of American poetic voice to its larger acoustical range, enmeshed in the range of social institutions that simultaneously came to underwrite the nation’s global power more generally.

My second project, Florentine Modernism: The American Avant-Garde, Renaissance Art, and the History of the Aesthetic, recovers the importance of Florence, as both a twentieth-century metropole and an emblem of the Renaissance past, to American literary modernism. Focusing on three women writers—Gertrude Stein, Mina Loy, and Mabel Dodge—it shows how the art and architecture of the Italian Renaissance past and the Anglo-Florentine community of the twentieth-century present inflected modernist conceptions of the relationship between self and setting. Inspired by the American mania for Old Master paintings in Florence, these writers used the artistic relics of the Renaissance to reinvent the category of the aesthetic. 

Selected Publications

"Frank O'Hara's Voice of America." ELH 86.3 (Fall 2019).

"Marianne Moore's Tone Technologies: Elocution, Poetry, Phonograph." Modernism/Modernity Print Plus 6.2 (Fall 2021). Peer-Reviewed. LINK

Review of Roi Tartakovsky, Surprised by Sound: Rhyme’s Inner Workings in American Literary History Online Review (2022).