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Johanna Winant

Assistant Professor

Johanna Winant is Assistant Professor of English at West Virginia University. Her research and teaching focus on modernism, poetry and poetics, literature and philosophy, and American literature. She received her BA from Stanford University in 2004, her MPhil from Cambridge University in 2005, and her PhD from the University of Chicago in 2014. In 2019, she held a Distinguished Fellowship at the Notre Dame Institute for Advanced Study.

Her first book, Lyric Logic: Modern American Poetry and Reasoning, is currently under review for publication. The book conceptualizes the formal experimentation of modernist poetry as philosophical work. By showing how poetry’s forms are logical, the book redescribes the intellectual ambition of modern American poetry by demonstrating that it models the processes of reasoning. As a result, the formal experimentation that characterizes these poems can be recategorized; it’s not primarily aesthetic but rather, philosophical. There are two intertwined implications: the book offers a new account of the relationship of poetics and epistemology, and it offers a new account of poetry’s place in the intellectual history of modernity. Chapters focus on Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Gertrude Stein, Marianne Moore, and Elizabeth Bishop. 

She is also completing a second book titled Close Reading for the Twenty-First Century, a collaborative project co-written and co-edited with Dan Sinykin (Emory University), which is also currently under review. This book serves as an orientation and guide to close reading for undergraduate students and early graduate students. It grows out of the observation that although close reading is the fundamental practice of our discipline, we lack shared terms for its steps and its evaluation. This book begins there; in the first section, we provide a definition and an anatomy of close reading, coining common terms for the steps of close reading, recounting the history of close reading, clarifying its relationship to argument, and outlining its future. Longer than an introduction, this first section says what close reading is, how it works, where it comes from, what it does, and where it’s going. The second section consists of eighteen very short essays by contributing scholars, primarily junior scholars. These essays, each only 2,000-3,000 words, each close read a close reading, using our book’s shared terms, to provide a close reading masterclass. They range from dissecting the moves that Erich Auerbach makes as he reads a medieval play to clarifying the arc of Barbara Johnson’s “Muteness Envy,” and further. The substantial appendix includes a variety of practical teaching materials.  

Winant is also the author of numerous academic articles and book chapters that have been published (or are forthcoming) in publications including JML, Paideuma, Poetics Today, James Joyce Quarterly, the Wiley-Blackwell Companion to American PoetryCambridge Companion to Philosophy and Literature, and elsewhere.  

She has written about the pedagogy of teaching literary studies in the T.S. Eliot Studies Annual and in the Pocket Instructor: Literature.  

Winant also writes for the public. Her essays have been published in Slate, the Los Angeles Review of Books, Boston Review, and Post45 Contemporaries, and elsewhere. 

Her CV is linked here