Emily Banks, MFA, Ph.D.

“I want students to leave my classes with the curious, empathetic approach to new interactions and unfamiliar experiences that I believe literature allows us to practice. I want, too, for them to gain an appreciation for nuance, ambiguity, and careful study in a world where discourse is often dominated by hot takes and catchy slogans.”


Visiting Assistant Professor

Educational Background

  • Ph.D., Emory University, Atlanta, Ga.
  • MFA, The University of Maryland, College Park, Md.
  • B.A., UNC-Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, N.C.

Year Joined Franklin


How can you teach someone to write poetry?

I believe that great poets are avid readers and keen observers. In my workshops, we read many poems from different eras that exemplify a combination of stylistic skill and emotional evocation. I stress that poems need not be about grand topics, but can be found in the most mundane places if we learn to see with a poet’s eye for detail and openness to unexpected beauty. When I teach students to identify and use formal poetic techniques, I am giving them a set of tools to draw from when they ponder how to most effectively convey a feeling, experience, or vision to their readers.

Why is it important to study American literature?

I love teaching American literature because it offers us new ways of understanding our own culture. My students are often surprised to learn that certain issues, debates, beliefs, and values they think of as current have actually circulated, surfaced, and resurfaced in America for centuries. By illuminating the varied emotional and psychological effects of historical events, cultural trends, and social structures, literature offers us a valuable lens through which we may better understand our present era and the roles we play in it.

Selected Professional Accomplishments

  • My first poetry collection, Mother Water, was published by Lynx House Press in 2020. My poems have also appeared in journals such as Plume, Copper Nickel, CutBank, 32 Poems, Heavy Feather Review, The Rumpus, and The Cortland Review.
  • I have published peer-reviewed articles in Women’s Studies, Arizona Quarterly, and Mississippi Quarterly, and book chapters in two edited volumes — Shirley Jackson and Domesticity: Beyond the Haunted House (Bloomsbury), and Shirley Jackson: A Companion (Peter Lang). I recently took over as president of the Shirley Jackson Society, and am a Managing Editor of the new Shirley Jackson Studies journal.

In my spare time I…

In my spare time, I enjoy cooking indulgent vegetarian meals. I especially love to make and eat pasta dishes (creamy pesto tortellini with mushrooms, spinach, and tomatoes has been my favorite recently), and I am always on the lookout for a reason to bake a cake. I also enjoy hiking, swimming in lakes, gardening, and vermicomposting, which means I am very emotionally attached to a large bin of worms in my backyard. I have two cats and agree with Mark Twain that a home’s worth is made manifest by the presence of “a well-fed, well-petted and properly revered cat.”