Emily Lobb

Emily arrived in Princeton 2021 after completing a BA in English at St Edmund Hall, Oxford, and a Masters in Modern and Contemporary Literature at St John’s College, Cambridge. Most broadly, she is a scholar of poetry and poetics, considering questions like: why do the words of poems affect us in ways we, paradoxically, can’t readily verbalise? Why do fragments of poems and their rhythms stick in the mind? What is the peculiar lure of rhyme, metre, and traditional form, and why does it matter? If poetry is so wonderful, why is reading it sometimes so boring? In a lecture he gave at Princeton in 1941, poet Wallace Stevens claimed that ‘Poets and poetry help people to live their lives.’ Emily’s work tends to return to the question of whether and how this is true. Or: what does poetry know about life?

More specifically, Emily works on (usually) 19th and 20th century, (usually) American poetry, with a particular focus on Stevens, Marianne Moore, William Carlos Williams, and Ezra Pound. Modernist poetry is often considered ‘difficult’, ‘obscure’, ‘cerebral’, ‘avant-garde’ (not in a good way), and Emily wishes to approach modernists and their poems from a different, affective angle, asking less what does this obscure allusion mean? and more why does it matter? She is also interested in the specifically American aesthetics of modernism, following the narrative of an early 20th century breaking-away from received British and Continental traditions, and more widely the ascent of the American superpower alongside the wane of colonial European influences.