Guinn Batten

​Associate Professor of English
Director of Honors in English
PhD, Duke University
research interests:
  • Irish Literature
  • Nineteenth-Century British
  • Theory
  • Women and Gender Studies
  • Gender and Sexuality
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    • Washington University
    • CB 1122
    • One Brookings Dr.
    • St. Louis, MO 63130-4899
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    Professor Batten's work focuses on Irish literature and poetry. She is completing a book on states of emergency, the ethics of violence, and sexual difference in the poetry of English Romanticism and modern Ireland.

    My ongoing booklength project, Modern Irish Poetry and Romantic Reading, extends and revises my first book’s interests in British Romantic poetry and its reception history (The Orphaned Imagination:  Melancholy and Commodity Culture in British Romanticism, Duke UP, 1998).  The interests in psychoanalytic and Marxist theory (as well as reception methodologies) that helped shape that first book I continue to explore also in my teaching, developing courses on literary theory as well as in the fields of Romanticism and of modern Irish literature.   I have published essays and chapters from this second project for collaborative projects—including contributions to various Cambridge Collections publications—and two compact histories of the field and its major poets (“Irish Poetry, History of,” The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics, Princeton UP, 2012 and The Cambridge History of Irish Literature, “Contemporary Poetry in English, 1940-2000 (co-authored with Dillon Johnston, Cambridge UP, 2006).   I co-edited for Bucknell UP in 2001 Romantic Generations:  Essays in Honor of Robert F. Gleckner.


    In addition to this standard scholarly work, as a member of the editorial board for the Irish Poetry Series of Wake Forest University Press in 2002 I selected, edited, and wrote the Afterword for a North American edition of three unpublished collections of poems by the Belfast poet Medbh McGuckian, The Soldiers of Year II.  The poems chosen represented a powerful new direction that has continued in her poetry, perspectives on the ways in which bodies suffer but also thrive imaginatively at the intersections of internecine wars, contagious diseases, global terror, and carceral states, not only in Ireland but also globally. 


    Much of my scholarly focus has been on Irish women’s poetry, including “The Body of the Nation:  Boland, McGuckian, Ní Chuilleanáin” for The Cambridge Companion to Contemporary Irish Poetry (2003), two other published essays on Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin (Irish University Review, 2007 and The Blackwell Companion to Irish Literature, 2010) and, most recently, “Eavan Boland, History and Silence,” a chapter in the 2021 Cambridge History of Irish Women’s Poetry.   I’ve also published chapters and journal essays on W. B. Yeats (including a chapter in Yeats and Afterwords, 2014), Louis MacNeice, Thomas Kinsella, John Montague, Seamus Heaney, Paul Muldoon, and Ciaran Carson.


    Work in progress includes a new volume in the MLA Options in Teaching series, Modern Irish Poetry, which I’m co-editing with an alumna of the Ph.D. program in English at Washington U., Dr. Anna Teekell (Assoc. Professor, Christopher Newport University).   Also contributing to this work-in-progress is a current student in the Ph.D program, Ian Clark, who as editor of the volume’s resources and reference section is developing a data-base project (“What Our Syllabi Say about What We Teach”) and website.



    Teaching Award, for outstanding work as a graduate mentor, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2008


    • L14 3991: Senior Research Seminar
    • L14 3992: Senior Research Seminar II
    • L14 4485: Modern Irish Narratives and Questions of Identity
    • L14 3525: Topics in Literature: 20th Century Irish Poetry: Yeats and Heaney
    • L14 3552: Introduction to Literary Theory
    • L14 3522: Topics in Literature: Romantic British Literature, 1789-1830
    • L14 4485: Topics in Irish Literature I: Modern Irish Narrative and the Troubles, 1898-1998
    The Orphaned Imagination

    The Orphaned Imagination

    Studies of the English Romantic poets generally portray them either as transcending the workings of capitalism or as working in complicity with an entrepreneurial economy. In The Orphaned Imagination, Guinn Batten challenges standard accounts of Romantic poetry and argues that Wordsworth, Byron, Blake, Shelley, Keats, and Coleridge—each of whom suffered the loss of a father or father-figure at an early age—possessed an orphan’s special insight into the dynamics and aesthetics of commodity culture and its symptomatic melancholia.