Dr. Michael Allen

Areas of specialization:

Poetry and Poetics, Transatlantic Exchange, the Development of the Novel

Areas of competence:

English Literature; Writing Pedagogy; Urban Studies



Personal website

I earned my PhD in English at Harvard University where I also held an appointment as Preceptor in Expository Writing.


My work explores the relationship between literary form and sociability, politics, and history. The research project I plan to pursue at the Polonsky Academy—Forms of Renewal: American Poetry and Urban Planning—examines poets’ attempts to remake lyric form alongside modernist planners’ attempts to impose orderly social forms on urban populations. This research draws on micro-geographies of place and the history of urban planning to read mid-century American poetry in light of contested visions of city life.


My previous work on Anglo-American literary exchange also investigates how literary form reshapes and reflects social and political arrangements. My dissertation began with the question What happened to poetry in England when English literature was no longer synonymous with English culture and nation? After the linked upheavals of Modernism and global war, American culture and literature relegated English poets to an uncomfortably marginal position in the Anglophone literary world. As a result, poets coming of age in England looked inward and backward toward their native literary traditions and national history. Paradoxically, however, this insular project relied on American models and took shape through encounters with American culture and American poets. My book manuscript, Transatlanticism: Animosity and Affiliation in Postwar British Poetry, uncovers the American sources of modern Britain’s most important poetry.


I have also written an essay about the English poet John Keats’s “textual sociability” and published an article tracing the ways conservative theories of “soulcraft” shaped the modern British coming-of-age novel.


I hold a Master’s degree in English from the University of Oxford and a Bachelor’s degree in English and Political Science from The George Washington University. As a PhD candidate at Harvard, I was a Doctoral Fellow of the Harvard Mellon Urban Initiative and the co-coordinator of the Mahindra Humanities Center’s British Literature and Global Anglophone Colloquium.



“The Thatcherite Bildungsroman,” Textual Practice, 34: 12 (January 2020), 2113-2130. (link)

“‘A Distant Idea of Proximity’: How Keats Handled Beauty,” The Keats-Shelley Review, 31: 1 (January 2017): 77-86. (link)