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Poet and Porter University Professor, Harvard University

Stephen M. Kellen Distinguished Visitor - Class of Spring 2006

Helen Vendler is the A. Kingsley Porter University Professor at Harvard University, where she received her PhD in English and American Literature in 1960. Before joining the Harvard faculty, Vendler taught at Cornell, Swarthmore, Haverford, Smith, and Boston University.


Vendler has written books on Yeats, Herbert, Keats, Stevens, Shakespeare, Whitman, and Heaney, and, most recently, Our Secret Discipline: Yeats and Lyric Form (2007), Last Looks, Last Books: Stevens, Plath, Lowell, Bishop, Merrill (2010); Dickinson: Selected Poems and Commentaries’ (2010); and The Ocean, the Bird, and the Scholar: Essays on Poets and Poetry (2015). She also reviews contemporary poetry for the New Republic, London Review of Books, and other journals. She has held fellowships from, among others, the John S. Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, Woodrow Wilson Center, and National Endowment for the Humanities, and is a member of the American Philosophical Society, American Academy of Arts and Letters, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Swedish Academy of Arts and Sciences, and Modern Language Association, of which she was president in 1980.


Vendler holds 24 honorary degrees from universities and colleges in America, England (Cambridge), Ireland (National University of Ireland and Trinity College), and Norway (Oslo).

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