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Graduate Faculty

Russel HirstBen Lee

Associate Professor

513 McClung Tower
Phone: (865) 974-6962
Fax: (865) 974-6926


Ben Lee teaches courses in modern and contemporary poetry, literary theory, and African American literature.  His research focuses on twentieth-century American poetry and poetics, with a special emphasis on vernacular and avant-garde approaches.   He is writing a book on experimental poetry and U.S. culture after WWII.


  • B.A., Amherst College
  • M.A., University of Tennessee
  • M.A., Ph.D., University of Virginia



  • “Spontaneity and Improvisation in Postwar Experimental Poetry,” The Routledge Companion to Experimental Literature, eds. Joe Bray, Alison Gibbons, and Brian McHale. (New York: Routledge, 2012), 75-88.
  • “Avant-Garde Poetry as Subcultural Practice: Mailer and Di Prima’s Hipsters,” New Literary History, 41.4 (Autumn 2010), 775-794.
  • “Howl and Other Poems: Is There Old Left in These New Beats?” American Literature, 76.2 (June 2004), 367-89.
  • “LeRoi Jones/Amiri Baraka and the Limits of Open Form,” African American Review, 37.2-3 (Summer/Fall 2003), 371-87.


  • Fred Moten’s Gentle Ferocity,” Lute & Drum (February 2015).
  • Review of Hazard Adams’s The Offense of Poetry, Modern Philology, 101.9 (August 2011), E1-E4.
  • “Frank O’Hara and the Turn to Friendship.” Review Essay on Andrew Epstein’s Beautiful Enemies: Friendship in Postwar American Poetry and Lytle Shaw’s Frank O’Hara: The Poetics of Coterie, Criticism 49.2 (Spring 2007), 243-247.

Awards, Honors & Grants

  • Hodges Excellence in Teaching Award for Assistant Professors, Department of English, University of Tennessee, 2011
  • Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, University of Tennessee, 2010
  • Research Fellow, Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas at Austin, 2009-10