Karin Roffman

Karin Roffman's picture
Senior Lecturer in Humanities, English and American Studies and Associate Director, Public Humanities
53 Wall St, New Haven, CT 06511-8916


Karin Roffman is currently a senior lecturer in Humanities, English and American Studies and the Associate Director of Public Humanities at Yale University.  She was previously an Associate Professor of English at West Point and a Visiting Professor of Literature at Bard College.  

She most recently published the first biography of John Ashbery, The Songs We Know Best: John Ashbery’s Early Life (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2017), which was named one of the 100 notable books for 2017 by the New York Times.  She is currently at work on a full biography of John Ashbery, a project which began when she discovered Ashbery’s juvenilia, childhood diaries and other papers while doing research in the Hudson house. A biography of the American painter Jane Freilicher will follow.  In 2019, in collaboration with the Yale University Digital Humanities Lab, she released John Ashbery’s Nest, a virtual tour and website on John Ashbery’s Hudson house (see http://vr.ashberyhouse.yale.edu/).

Her research has been supported by two ACLS fellowships (2011-12, 2017-18), the Howard Foundation (2011-12) and an NEH summer stipend (2009), as well as grants from the Houghton Library, the Harry Ransom Center, and the American Philosophical Society. She has published articles on 20th and 21st century writers and painters in Raritan, Modern Fiction Studies, ArtforumRain TaxiYale ReviewChicago ReviewWallace Stevens Journal and others.  Her first book, From the Modernist Annex: American Women Writers in Museums and Libraries (2010), on the poetry and prose of Edith Wharton, Marianne Moore, Nella Larsen and Ruth Benedict won the University of Alabama Press’s American Literature Elizabeth Agee Manuscript Prize and subsequent publication.  

Selected Recent Articles:

Sitting at the Table” with Stein and Ashbery: “An Occasion” for Thin[g]king. The Yale Review (March, 2019) 

Mysteries Expound Mysteries”: Marianne Moore’s Influence on John Ashbery.  In The Twenty-first Century Marianne Moore.  Ed. Elizabeth Gregory.  December, 2018. 

A Grand Party.”  Excerpt from The Songs We Know Best: John Ashbery’s Early Years (FSG, 2017).  Poetry Foundation. 

“Jane Freilicher’s ‘Handwriting’ in Pen and Paint.” In Jane Freilicher and Jane Wilson:  Seen and Unseen.  Ed. Alicia G. Longwell.  Parrish Art Museum, 2015: 43-51.