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John Marsh

John Marsh

Acting Associate Head

Associate Professor of English

105 Ritenour Building
University Park , PA 16802
Office Phone: (814) 863-2627

Office Hours:

  • M 2:30 - 3:30; T 12:30 - 1:30; F 2:30 - 3:30

Curriculum Vitae

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Professional Bio

John Marsh is associate professor of English at Pennsylvania State University. He is the author of two recently published books. The first, Hog Butchers, Beggars, and Bus Boys: Poverty, Labor, and the Making of Modern American Poetry (Michigan), offers a revisionary history of poetic modernism that recovers the decisive role workers and the poor played in the formation of early twentieth-century American poetry. The second, Class Dismissed: Why We Cannot Teach or Learn Our Way out of Inequality (Monthly Review), debunks the popular belief that what causes poverty and economic inequality in the United States is lack of education and, thus, that what will fix these ills is more and better education. In addition, Marsh is the editor of You Work Tomorrow: An Anthology of American Labor Poetry, 1929-1941 (Michigan), which collects some of the thousands of remarkable but largely forgotten poems workers and labor organizers published in their union newspapers in the 1930s. The anthology won the 2007-2008 Tillie Olsen Award for Creative Writing from the Working-Class Studies Association. His articles, essays, and reviews have appeared in American Literature, College English, Legacy: A Journal of American Women Writers and more popular venues like The Chronicle Review, Le Monde Diplomatique, and Inside Higher Ed. He is at work on two books. The first, a cultural history of the 1930s called The Emotional Life of the Great Depression, focuses on the relationship between events (proletarian literature, bank runs, the mass slaughter of animals at the Toledo Zoo due to lack of funds) and emotions (sympathy, panic, despair) during that turbulent decade. The second, about Walt Whitman, is called In Walt We Trust: How a Queer Socialist Poet Can Save America from Itself. It argues that the values Whitman articulates in his poetry (his commitment to the least among us, his sympathy for human failings, his contempt for the mania of owning things) would go far toward redeeming Americans and American life of their current malaise. In recent years, Marsh has taught undergraduate and graduate classes on the 1930s, modern and contemporary American poetry, the literature of poverty, and critical theory.