Karen J. Ford

Karen Ford

Interim Dean and Professor of English

fordk@uoregon.edu | 541-346-8905

Appointments through Pam Palanuk: 
(palanuk@uoregon.edu | 541-346-4749)

Curriculum Vitae

ACADEMIC AREAS: American Poetry and Poetics, American Literature

Past Courses

Race and Form in American Poetry

Poetry and Everyday Life

Major Authors: Emily Dickinson

Twentieth-Century African American Poetry and Poetics

Academic Background

  • Ph.D., English, University of Illinois at Urbana - Champaign, 1989
  • M.A., English, University of California at Davis, 1981
  • B.A., English, California State University - Sacramento, 1978

Research Interests & Current Projects

I work on nineteenth and twentieth-century American poetry and poetics. I am interested in the politics of literary form — how writers employ poetic forms for social and political purposes. My first book, Gender and the Poetics of Excess, explores the extravagant writing styles of some women poets who simultaneously parody the stereotype of the gabby female and demand a place for their words in a literary tradition that is inhospitable to women writers. My second, Split-Gut Song: Jean Toomer and the Poetics of Modernity, investigates how Toomer and other modernist writers equated certain poetic forms with specific racial or national identities.

I am currently at work on a book about race and poetic form, trying to understand the processes by which some forms — the sonnet, ballad, haiku, or free verse, for instance — are "racialized," given a racial content or asked to do racial work in the literary culture. How does Native American poet Gerald Vizenor, for example, come to view Japanese haiku as a form that can record his Anishinaabe oral heritage?

Grants & Awards

  • 2017: University of Oregon, Martin Luther King Jr. Award
  • 2015: University of Oregon, Herman Faculty Achievement Award
  • 2010: Oregon Humanities Center Research Fellowship
  • 2010: National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Stipend
  • 2007: University of Oregon, Research Innovation Award
  • 2005: American Council of Learned Societies Yearlong Research Fellowship
  • 2005: University of Oregon, Williams Fellow Teaching Award
  • 1995: University of Oregon, Ersted Award for Distinguished Teaching

Selected Publications


Split-Gut Song cover
Gender and the Poetics of Excess cover

Selected Articles

  • 2010, "The Last Quatrain: Gwendolyn Brooks and the Ends of Ballads," Twentieth-Century Literature, 56.3: 371-95. 

  • 2009 "Marking Time in Native America: Haiku, Elegy, Survival," American LiteratureJune 2009: 333-359.

Selected Book Chapters

  • 2011, "The Fight and the Fiddle in Twentieth-Century African American Poetry," The Oxford Companion to Modern and Contemporary America Poetry (edited by Cary Nelson), Oxford: Oxford University Press: pgs. 369-404.

  • 2009, "The Lives of Haiku Poetry: Self, Selflessness, and Solidarity in Concentration Camp Haiku," Poetry, Politics, and the Profession: Cary Nelson and the Struggle for the University, New York: State University of New York Press: pgs. 59-74.

  • 1996, "Making Poetry Pay: The Commodification of Langston Hughes," Marketing Modernisms: Self-Promotion, Canonization, and Rereading (edited by Kevin J.H. Dettmar and Stephen Watt), University of Michigan Press: pgs. 275-96.