Johnson, Jeannine 1968-

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Johnson, Jeannine 1968-


Born February 7, 1968. Education: Haverford College, B.A.; Yale University, Ph.D.


Writer and educator. Harvard University, preceptor in expository writing, 1999—. Yale University, instructor; Wake Forest University, instructor.


Why Write Poetry? Modern Poets Defending Their Art, Fairleigh Dickinson University Press (Madison, NJ), 2007.

Contributor to books, including Encyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance, Routledge, 2004; Encyclopedia of Aesthetics, Oxford University Press, 1998; Contemporary Southern Writers, St. James Press, 1998; and A Companion to Twentieth-Century American Poetry.

Contributor to periodicals, including the Explicator and the Wallace Stevens Journal.


Jeannine Johnson is a writer and educator whose academic work focuses largely on poetry and writing. Johnson has a B.A. from Haverford College and a Ph.D. from Yale University. She serves as a preceptor in expository writing at Harvard University and teaches at Yale and Wake Forest universities. Johnson writes frequently on topics related to contemporary poetry and poetics, contributing to journals such as the Wallace Stevens Journal and reference works including Encyclopedia of Aesthetics and Contemporary Southern Writers. The Fairleigh Dickinson University Web site lists her other research interests as American and Romantic literature, the history of literary traditions, the juncture of literature and technology, and ekphrasis, or the description of one visual or literary medium by another.

In Why Write Poetry? Modern Poets Defending Their Art, Johnson explores in depth a poetic genre that she believes has been overlooked by other literary critics and academics: the defense of poetry, along with the act of writing poetry in verse. She explores this genre in the works of H.D. (Hilda Doolittle), Wallace Stevens, W.H. Auden, Adrienne Rich, and Geoffrey Hill, all of whom present a justification and apology for poetry within their verse. Johnson demonstrates how apology has become a significant element in modern poetry and links poetry itself and its defense in prose, two literary traditions previously treated as distinct. She observes that modern poetry often addresses the same questions and concerns that were posed by ancient writers such as Aristotle. The impulse to defend and honor poetry in prose works, Johnson explains, also drives poets to express such apologies in their favored literary form. Her book explores poetry and war in the works of H.D.; ritual repetition of apology in W.H. Auden's works; Wallace Stevens's "paralogical" defense of poetry; Adrienne Rich and the ethics of poetry; and prophecy and poetry in the works of Geoffrey Hill.

Johnson notes that "apology in poetry" can be seen as "a function of lyric introspection," as a brief review noted in Reference and Research Book News. "In an age in which the general public attitude towards poetry may be characterized as one of indifference, defense helps these authors make a claim for poetry's cultural relevance, as well as for its private profits," observed a writer on the Fairleigh Dickinson University Press Web site.



Reference & Research Book News, May 1, 2007, review of Why Write Poetry? Modern Poets Defending Their Art.


Fairleigh Dickinson University Web site, (August 11, 2008), author profile.

Fairleigh Dickinson University Press Web site, (August 11, 2008), author profile.

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Johnson, Jeannine 1968-

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