Bethany Hicok

Photo of Bethany Hicok

Lecturer in English

Hollander Hall Rm 104

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. My most recent book, 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. 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 an edited volume of new essays on Bishop and her archive (under advance contract with Lever Press) that grows out of the NEH seminar, and a new book project on the Feminist Poetry 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’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.