Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Ben F. Lee

Committee Members

Ben Lee, Jessica Greiser, Gerard Cohen-Vrignaud


This is an autoethnographic inquiry seeking what it means to study something dear to your heart inside an institution that has systematically privileged the mind over the heart. Through engaging with various theoretical and methodological conversations to unveil the tension this disconnect creates in those seeking to professionalize in a discipline that undermines its own mission, I seek to deconstruct and reconstruct the habits and tools in Literary Studies to open a conversation that has not yet been open.

Following my own attachments to contemporary poets Andrea Gibson, Danez Smith, and Buddy Wakefield, I argue that the poets themselves are cultural critics and deeply attuned to what they believe a poem can do, thus embodying their poetics and presenting that embodiment to their primarily queer audiences as a form of reparative reading practice. I argue, too, that taking a heart centered and creative approach to our scholarly work does not undermine the academic rigor, but rather enlivens it.

Drawing on my own experience inside and outside the academy, queer theory, affect theory, and conversations from The Method Wars, I use autoethnography as a means of bridging the gap between academic conversations and the reality of contemporary queer poets Andrea Gibson, Buddy Wakefield, and Danez Smith to think through how my own life is better for having the opportunity to experience so much.

I organize this project around my own sense of heartedness. I hope to show that the life of the mind and life of the heart can integrate if we choose to follow our hearts and take our brains with us. That we can use theory and personal experience to find our poets and love them.

Available for download on Friday, December 15, 2028

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