Office Number: 14N-431
Phone Number: (617) 253-1447

Joshua Bennett

Professor, Distinguished Chair of the Humanities

Joshua Bennett is the author of five books of poetry, criticism, and narrative nonfiction: The Sobbing School (Penguin, 2016)—winner of the National Poetry Series and a finalist for an NAACP Image Award—Being Property Once Myself (Harvard University Press, 2020), winner of the MLA’s William Sanders Scarborough Prize, Owed (Penguin, 2020), The Study of Human Life (Penguin, 2022), and Spoken Word: A Cultural History (Knopf, 2023).

Bennett earned his Ph.D. in English from Princeton University, and an M.A. in Theatre and Performance Studies from the University of Warwick, where he was a Marshall Scholar. He has recited his original works at the Sundance Film Festival, the NAACP Image Awards, and President Obama’s Evening of Poetry and Music at the White House.

For his creative writing and scholarship, Joshua has received fellowships and awards from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Whiting Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Society of Fellows at Harvard University. His work has been published in The Atlantic, The Best American Poetry, The New Yorker, The Paris Review, and elsewhere. Alongside his friend and colleague, Jesse McCarthy, he is the founding editor of Minor Notes, a Penguin Classics book series dedicated to minor poets within the black expressive tradition.


Subjects taught the current academic year:

21L.704 Studies in Poetry: Pretending (Fall 2024)

Subjects taught in recent years:

21L.004 Reading Poetry: Social Poetics (Spring 2023)

21W.756 Writing and Reading Poems: Nature Poetry (Fall 2023)

Research Interests
My research interests include 20th and 21st century African American literature, environmental studies, poetry and poetics, animality studies, and affect theory.

  • 2023 Spoken Word: A Cultural History. New York, New York: Alfred A. Knopf. 2023.
  • 2022 The Study of Human Life. New York, New York: Penguin Books, 2022.
  • 2020 Being Property Once Myself: Blackness and the End of Man. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. 2020.
  • 2020 Owed. New York, New York: Penguin Books. 2020.
  • 2016 The Sobbing School. New York, New York: Penguin Books. 2016.


  • 2022 “Dad Poem X” in The New Yorker
  • 2022 “Benediction” in The Atlantic
  • 2022 “Halation” and “Dad Poem” in Harvard Review
  • 2022 “Dad Poem (The New Temporality)” in Yale Review
  • 2018 “America Will Be” in The Nation
  • Guggenheim Fellowship
  • Whiting Award in Poetry and Nonfiction
  • Willam Sanders Scarborough Prize
  • NEA Fellowship
  • National Poetry Series
  • Josephine de Karman Fellowship
  • Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship.