Jamie Fenton, Pembroke

Degree: PhD
Course: AmLit
Supervisor: Dr Edward Allen
Dissertation Title:
The Sound of Poetry in the American Civil War

Biographical Information

I completed my BA and MPhil at Jesus College, Cambridge, before beginning an AHRC-funded PhD at Pembroke College. My PhD is an attempt to investigate lyric poetry as a sound technology, and takes as its testing ground the literature of the American Civil War, a period of intense sensory pressure on the eve of breakthroughs in phonography and telephony. Authors under examination include Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, Herman Melville and Laura Redden Searing. 

From January to May 2020 I will be taking up a position as a Kluge Fellow at the Library of Congress, Washington D.C.

Research Interests

I believe that all reading must either start or end with history, and as such I embrace the fluid bounds of American Literature as a field. Within that framework, though, my main interest is in probing the shared ground between lyric studies and sound studies. Criticism of lyric poetry instinctively recourses to metaphors of sound, and I'm engaged in seeing how far we can take these metaphors before they become inadequate.

Other research interests include prosody, sound technology, folk music, and video games/virtuality.

Areas of Supervision

I would be happy to receive any enquiries about supervision in projects related to American Literature (especially nineteenth-century), sound studies, and lyric. 

Selected Publications

  • "'Fit for war': Rhythm and Bodily Health in Walt Whitman's Drum-Taps", Walt Whitman Quarterly Review (2020, forthcoming)
  • 'Tied to the Mast: James Joyce and Absolute Music', Review, Cambridge Quarterly (2020)
  • '"A Dance That Is Danced Standing Still": Poetic Motion in the Work of Woody Guthrie', Woody Guthrie Annual (2017)