Daniel Tiffany

Professor of English and Comparative Literature
Email tiffany@usc.edu Office THH 437 Office Phone (213) 740-3736


  • B.A. Translation Studies, University of California, Santa Cruz
  • Ph.D. Comparative Literature, University of Chicago
  • Summary Statement of Research Interests

    In the past 20 years, I have been fortunate enough to see five books of my literary criticism and five full-length collections of my poetry published by fine presses. My latest scholarly book (published in 2014 by Johns Hopkins University Press) was described by one reviewer as “the most exciting and original book on poetry, indeed one of the most exciting scholarly works on anything I have read in years.” My second critical book, Toy Medium: Materialism and Modern Lyric (University of California Press, 2000) was named the “Best Nonfiction Book of 2000” by the Los Angeles Times Book Review and praised by a reviewer in the Virginia Quarterly as “one of the most fascinating pieces of literary and cultural criticism to appear in the last decade.” More recently, my third critical book, Infidel Poetics: Riddles, Nightlife, Substance (University of Chicago Press, 2009) was named “the best book of poetry criticism” of 2009 by the editor of Poetry magazine and nominated for the Pegasus Prize in Criticism. Harvard University Press published my first book in 1995 (on the relation between the Decadent poetics of Ezra Pound’s early writing and his later involvement with Italian fascism). Several of these books have gone through multiple editions. In addition, my literary scholarship is published in journals such as PMLA, Critical Quarterly, Modernism/Modernity, and Critical Inquiry.

    My poetry appears in leading magazines such as Poetry, The Paris Review, Tin House, Lana Turner, and Boston Review, and my collections of poetry have appeared with some of the most exciting independent presses in the country: Omnidawn, Noemi Press, Tinfish, and Action Books. These books have received numerous reviews and widespread recognition: early in my career, I received the Chicago Review Poetry Prize, and one of my books was picked as a poetry selection for National Poetry Month in 2006; others have appeared on year-end lists of “Notable Books” in national publications (including my fourth book, which was chosen by Poetry magazine in 2013 for its annual list). Several poems from these books have been included in various anthologies and become part of collaborations involving film and music. In addition, translation work (my B.A. degree is in Translation Studies) has been an important complement to my poetry and scholarship. I have published translations of authors from French, Greek, and Italian (including Georges Bataille, Sophocles, and Cesare Pavese).

    My fifth collection of poems, The Work-Shy (produced in collaboration with BLUNT RESEARCH GROUP), was published in 2016 in the Wesleyan Poetry Series and has been the subject of essay-length reviews in leading journals. Some of the poems (from archival sources) in this collection are included in a traveling exhibition called “States of Incarceration,” which is traveling to museums in 17 states between 2015 and 2018. Excerpts from The Work-Shy have been developed into theatrical works by several different companies and directors.

    At USC, I have been awarded a Zumberge Research Fellowship; a Hewlitt Foundation Grant for curricular development; a Simpson Research Grant; and two Voices and Visions grants to organize public events on poetry and experimental and, more recently, on poetic archives and performance. In addition, as a poet (and critic), I have received external fellowships from the Whiting Foundation, the Ragdale Foundation; the Virginia Center for the Arts; and the MacDowell Colony.

    My involvement with poetry and other arts and disciplines has also found expression more locally in various cultural projects in Los Angeles where, starting in 2015, I have been a co-curator for the interdisciplinary @SEA Series (affiliated with the Poetic Research Bureau), including events staged at the Hammer Museum and MOCA Downtown LA.

    At Brown University in the Fall of 2014, I taught and delivered public lectures as Poet-in-Residence in the Literary Arts Program. Having given nearly 60 poetry readings in the U.S. and abroad, I have also been invited to lecture at Yale, Berkeley, Princeton, Cornell, UCLA, Chicago, Stanford, Johns Hopkins, the American Academy in Berlin, and the Graduate Theory Seminar at Cambridge University in Great Britain, as well as the Institute of Advanced Study at the University of London. My work as a theorist and critic was the subject of a special symposium, along with the annual Duffy Lecture in Literary Studies, at the University of Notre Dame in 2010. More recently, I was awarded the Berlin Prize in 2012, sponsored by the American Academy in Berlin.

    Research Keywords

    modern poetry and poetics, philosophy, visual and popular culture, creative writing, critical theory

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