The University of Massachusetts Amherst
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Ruth Jennison

Associate Professor

picture of Ruth Jennison

(413) 545-2974

W437 South College

Ruth Jennison received a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley and a B.A. from Bryn Mawr College. Professor Jennison is the recipient of an Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center at the University of Texas, Austin, as well as a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Stipend. 

Professor Jennison's fields of research and teaching include 20th and 21st century American poetry, the avant-garde, Marxism, feminism, and critical geography. 

Professor Jennison is the author of The Zukofsky Era: Modernity, Margins and the Avant-Garde. The Zukofsky Era argues that Objectivist poetry, inaugurated by Louis Zukofsky in 1931, gave expression to the complex contours of culture and politics in America during the Great Depression. Her study of Zukofsky and two others in the Objectivist constellation, George Oppen and Lorine Niedecker, elaborates a dialectic between the formal experimental features of Objectivist poetry and its authors' progressive commitments to the radical potentials of modernity. Mixing textual analysis, archival research, and historiography, The Zukofsky Era shows how Zukofsky, Oppen, and Niedecker braided their experiences as working-class Jews, political activists, and feminists into radical, canon-challenging poetic forms. Using the tools of critical geography, The Zukofsky Era offers an account of the relationship between the uneven spatial landscapes of capitalism in crisis and the Objectivists’ paratactical textscapes. In a rethinking of the overall terms in which poetic modernism is described, The Zukofsky identifies and assesses the key characteristics of the Objectivist avant-garde, including its formal recognition of proliferating commodity cultures, its solidarity with global anticapitalist movements, and its imperative to develop poetics that nurtured revolutionary literacy. 

Research Areas

  • 20th Century and Contemporary Literature
  • American Literature
  • Marxist Literary Studies
  • Poetry and Poetics
  • Theory and Culture


  •  The Zukofsky Era: Modernity, Margins and the American Avant-Garde, Johns Hopkins University Press, June 2012. 
  • “Scrambling Narrative: Niedecker and the White Dome of Logic,” Journal of Narrative Theory, 41.1, Spring 2011, pp 52-81.
  • “Combining Uneven Developments: Louis Zukofsky and the Political Economy of Revolutionary Modernism,” Cultural Critique, 77, Winter 2011, pp 146-179.
  • “Waking Into Ideology: Lorine Niedecker’s Experiments in the Syntax of Consciousness” in Radical Vernacular: Lorine Niedecker and the Politics of Place, ed. Elizabeth Willis, University of Iowa Press 2008, pp 131-150