Profile: Heather Dubrow

Fordham University’s Dr. Heather Dubrow demonstrates that one can be both a scholar and a poet.

As a scholar, Dubrow specializes in early modern lyric poetry and Shakespeare. Her methodological and topical interests include the new formalisms, gender, genre, and historicism.

Dubrow also publishes articles on higher education, which discuss topics such as teaching, lecturing, and developing independent thinking among students.

Recently Dubrow published her seventh monograph Deixis in the Early Modern English Lyric, which explores spatial deictics in early modern poetry. Deictics are “pointing” words like “this” and “that,” “I” and “you,” “here” and “there.” According to Dubrow, deixis “shapes communication, both written and oral, in many ways.” Unlike most scholars studying deixis, Dubrow works on its function in lyric, and her book engages with topics such as space, conceptions of the self, and religious controversies in early modern England. She analyzes, for example, how couplets in Shakespearean poems use “this” both to suggest and to unsettle closure and unity. Her book takes a new formalist approach, which considers literary forms in relation to cultural and historical issues.

Dubrow’s future academic research may continue to explore deixis, especially in Milton’s Nativity Ode. “I also have some ideas for articles on space in certain Shakespeare texts and Milton poems and one on detective fiction,” said Dubrow.

But one of Dubrow’s main concerns is to return to poetry. Faced with the academic profession’s stigma that scholars should not be creative writers, Dubrow had given up writing poetry for twenty years. She began writing creatively again in the 1990s, but she put such writing on the backburner for six months while working on Deixis. “I wanted to get back to it,” Dubrow said. Currently she is working on a series of poems on Shakespeare and on “found poems,” which rearrange and reimagine extracted passages from other sources.

Dubrow, together with Elizabeth Frost, directs Fordham’s Poets Out Loud (POL). While Frost directs the POL Book Series, which issues two volumes of poetry annually in collaboration with Fordham University Press, Dubrow directs the POL Reading Series, which presents free public poetry readings throughout the academic year. “Directing Poets Out Loud has been one of the principal challenges and joys of my years at Fordham,” said Dubrow. “Helping to bring poetry both to people who have long loved it and those who had not previously been very involved with it is exciting.” Working with Frost, Sarah Gambito, Robert Grimes, and numerous English department colleagues, Dubrow has helped form Poets Out Loud into the beloved community it is today. Among her various contributions, Dubrow established a high school outreach program.

Fordham has always been supportive of Dubrow’s dual interests in scholarship and poetry. “I was very pleased when hired that Fordham was interested in my being both a poet and a literary critic rather than seeing one as potentially interfering with the other,” said Dubrow. She foresees that academia as a whole will increasingly welcome those who wish to do both. “I think the profession has changed for the better in this regard,” said Dubrow. “And to foster that change I always encourage students interested in wearing both hats to do so.”

Dubrow wishes to thank Fordham and her English department colleagues for the wonderful experiences she continues to have at the university. She especially wishes to thank Kim and Stephen Bepler, the benefactors of the John D. Boyd, S.J., Chair in Poetic Imagination, which Dubrow currently holds.