Bethany Hicok

Photo of Bethany Hicok

Lecturer in English

Hollander Hall Rm 104
At Williams since 2018

Before coming to Williams College in 2018, I was Professor of English and Honors Program Director at Westminster College in Western Pennsylvania. My areas of expertise include Modern Poetry and Poetics, Feminist Theory, Cultural Poetics, Gender and Sexuality Studies, and Archival Studies. My interest in exploring the intersection between poetry and culture informs all my scholarly work and teaching. Elizabeth Bishop’s Brazil (University of Virginia Press, 2016), for example, is a cross-cultural study of the North American poet Elizabeth Bishop and the nearly two decades she lived and wrote in Brazil. My first book, Degrees of Freedom: American Women Poets and the Women’s College, 1905-1955 (Bucknell, 2008), traces the influence of the women’s college on the poetic development of three poets: Marianne Moore, Bishop, and Sylvia Plath. My work on mapping the creative writing process of these poets within their social and historical period also informs my teaching as I find new ways to help undergraduates develop their own successful writing practice. Literary archives have been central to my scholarship for more than two decades. In the Summer of 2017, I led a Summer Seminar for College and University Professors at Vassar College on Elizabeth Bishop and the Literary Archive funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, which resulted in an edited volume of new essays on Bishop and her archive (Lever Press 2020). At Williams, I am pleased to take advantage of the college’s superb resources to make the archive more central to my teaching. In my course on the Feminist Poetry Movement, for example, we map the close alliance between the politics of Second Wave Feminism and the poetics of the 1960s, 70s and early 80s through feminist periodicals, anthologies, and other primary documents in the library’s Special Collections, providing the students with hands-on experience with primary documents and the ability to immerse themselves in a specific historical and cultural period. In addition to my books and articles on modern American poets, I have also published on innovative approaches to teaching, including book chapters on teaching the legal, social, and ethical issues of the Human Genome Project in paired courses in literature and biology, and on collaboration, scholarship, and undergraduate research. My current projects include a book chapter for the Edinburgh Companion to Women in Publishing, 1900-2000 on Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press, and a new book project called Feminist Futures, a re-examination of the poetry, poets, periodicals and  presses of the feminist movement from 1968-1992 with an emphasis on intersectional feminisms and the building of a multi-issue movement.


B.A. Russell Sage College, English (1980)
M.A.T. University of Rochester (1990)
M.A. University of Rochester, English (1992)
Ph.D. University of Rochester, English (1996)

Areas of Expertise

Modern Poetry and Poetics, Feminist Theory, Cultural Poetics, Archival Studies

Scholarship/Creative Work


Hicok, Bethany. Elizabeth Bishop and the Literary Archive (Lever Press, 2020).

Hicok, Bethany, Elizabeth Bishop’s Brazil. University of Virginia Press, 2016.

Hicok, Bethany, editor (with Angus Cleghorn and Thomas Travisano). Elizabeth Bishop in the Twenty-First Century: Reading the New Editions. University of Virginia Press, 2012.

Hicok, Bethany. Degrees of Freedom: American Women Poets and the Women’s College, 1905-1955, Bucknell University Press, 2008.

Journal Articles and Book Chapters

Hicok, Bethany. “Sylvia Plath’s ‘The Jailor’ as Radical Feminist Text.” The Bloomsbury Companion to Sylvia Plath. Eds. Anita Helle and Maeve O’Brien, forthcoming 2021.

Hicok, Bethany. “The Archive.” Elizabeth Bishop in Context. Eds. Angus Cleghorn and Jonathan Ellis. Cambridge University Press, forthcoming in spring 2020.

Hicok, Bethany. “Becoming a Poet: From North to South.” The Cambridge Companion to Elizabeth Bishop. Eds. Angus Cleghorn and Jonathan Ellis. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014. 111-123.

Hicok, Bethany. “Bishop’s Brazilian Politics.” In Elizabeth Bishop in the Twenty-First Century: Reading the New Editions. Co-editors Angus Cleghorn, Bethany Hicok and Thomas Travisano. University of Virginia Press, Spring 2012. 133-150.

Hicok, Bethany. “Freud, Modernity, and the ‘Father Nucleus’ in Wallace Stevens.” The Wallace Stevens Journal 34.2 (Fall 2010): 125-143.

Hicok, Bethany. “Inviting Our Students to Join the Scholarly Conversation.” In Reading, Writing, & Research: Undergraduate Students as Scholars in Literary Studies. Ed. Laura Behling. Washington, D.C.: Council of Undergraduate Research, 2009. 42-52.

Hicok, Bethany and Joshua Corrette-Bennett. “Designer Genes: Teaching the Ethical Dimensions of Genetic Research in Clustered Courses.”  In The Human Genome Project in College Curriculum: Ethical Issues and Practical Strategies. Eds. Donovan A. and R. Green. University Press of New England, 2008.

Hicok, Bethany. “Companions in Disguise: The Conjuries of Wallace Stevens and Marianne Moore,” The Wallace Stevens Journal 31.2 (Fall 2007): 115-130.

Hicok, Bethany. “To Work ‘Lovingly’: Marianne Moore at Bryn Mawr, 1905-1909,” The Journal of Modern Literature 23.3/4 (Summer 2000). 483-501.

Hicok, Bethany. “Elizabeth Bishop’s ‘Queer Birds’: Vassar, Con Spirito, and the Romance of Female Community,” Contemporary Literature 40.2 (Summer 1999). 286-310.

Awards, Fellowships & Grants

National Endowment for the Humanities $105,414 grant awarded August 2016 to lead a three-week Summer Seminar for College and University Professors on Elizabeth Bishop and the Literary Archive at Vassar College, June 2017.

CIC Summer Seminar grant, “Histories of Herodotus,” Hellenic Centre, Washington, D.C., July 2016.

NEH Summer Seminar participant grant, “Brazilian Literature: Contemporary Urban Fiction,” São Paulo, Brazil, July 5-30, 2010.

Faculty Summer Institute 2004: Teaching the Ethical, Legal, and Social Implications of the Human Genome Project, Dartmouth College, Summer 2004 (NIH Funded).

Iowa College Foundation Faculty Research and Development Grant, “In the Footsteps of Ezra Pound in Italy,” June 2000-June 2001.

Professional Affiliations

Editorial Board, Bishop-Lowell Studies Journal, first issue forthcoming in 2021

Elizabeth Bishop Society Advisory Board

Current Committees

  • Diversity and Community
  • Winter Study Committee