Areas of Expertise
20th and 21st Century American Poetry; Religion and Literature; Race and Literature; Racial identities and the literary imagination; Contemporary Poetics; Devotional Poetry; Lyric Poetry; Poetry of the Americas
Spencer Clark French is a third year English Ph.D. student whose research revolves around American poetry of the twentieth and twenty-first century. He is particularly interested in the intersection of resistance poetry with language from the Hebrew Bible and Christian Scriptures—the ways that poets, both religious and not, have invoked that scriptural language as a tool of subversion. Further, he is keenly invested in the ways that poetry can be used to bring about just communities and positive peace. Increasingly, his research is bringing him into international dialogues about religion, justice, and poetry, exemplified by poets like Ernesto Cardenal. While teaching, Spencer is interested in the ways that classes can be structured to de-center hierarchies and create the conditions for community-engaged, student-led learning.
Spencer finds himself continually moved by the work and thought of Ernesto Cardenal, Lucille Clifton, Marilynne Robinson, Simone Weil, Paolo Freire, James Baldwin, Ross Gay, Gwendolyn Brooks, Audre Lorde, Wendell Berry, June Jordan, among many others.
Outside of the realm of scholarly inquiry, Spencer is a writer of poetry and creative non-fiction, a teacher of community-based poetry workshops, a mediocre salsa lead, a sporadic runner, and a lover of the beautiful, complicated, beautiful city of South Bend, IN.