Orchid Tierney joined Kenyon's faculty in 2019. Her scholarship focuses on waste and waste management in contemporary Anglophone poetry. Tierney’s research and teaching interests include Pacific Island literature, climate change, and experimental poetics. 

In addition to her creative work, Tierney’s scholarship and reviews have been published in journals such as Jacket2 and the Journal of Modern Literature. She currently serves as a reviews editor for Jacket2 and as a consulting editor for the Kenyon Review. 

Her latest book, "My Beatrice" was published in 2020.

Areas of Expertise

Environmental humanities, digital humanities, Anglophone poetry and poetics

Education

2019 — Doctor of Philosophy from University of Pennsylvania

2013 — Master of Arts from U of Otago, New Zealand

2010 — Masters of Creative Writing from University of Auckland

2001 — Bachelor of Arts from U of Otago, New Zealand

Courses Recently Taught

Each section of these first-year seminars approaches the study of literature through the exploration of a single theme in texts drawn from a variety of literary genres (such as tragedy, comedy, lyric poetry, epic, novel, short story, film and autobiography) and historical periods. Classes are small, offering intensive discussion and close attention to each student's writing. Students in each section are asked to work intensively on composition as part of a rigorous introduction to reading, thinking, speaking and writing about literary texts. During the semester, instructors will assign frequent essays and may also require oral presentations, quizzes, examinations and research projects. This course is not open to juniors and seniors without permission of the department chair. Offered every year.

In recent years, there has been a renaissance of science writing for the common reader that combines literary and scientific merit: from Stephen Hawking's "A Brief History of Time" to Oliver Sacks' "The Man Who Mistook His Wife for A Hat", from Dava Sobel's "Longitude" to Rebecca Skloot's "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks," a series of books that explore scientific questions in a style that transcends the conventions of academic science writing or popular history have brought important questions from physics, biology, chemistry, neuroscience, and mathematics to wider public attention. Short form science journalism has become one of the most important areas of literary nonfiction, recognized both by annual awards from the American Association for the Advancement of Science and two different series of Best of American Science Writing anthologies. This interdisciplinary science writing course will combine literary analysis of exemplary essays on scientific topics with a writing workshop that requires students to do close observation of scientific processes, conduct independent research and interviews, interpret data, and present scientific information in highly readable form. Weekly readings will be selected from prize-winning science essays and the Best of American Science and Nature Writing series. We may also read one book-length work of science writing. Weekly writing assignments will include journals, observational accounts of science experiments, exercises in interpreting scientific data, interviews, narratives and a substantial research essay. This counts toward the approaches to literary study or post-1900 requirements for the major. No prerequisite.

From basic techniques of critical analysis to far-reaching questions about language, literature, culture and aesthetics, this course will introduce students to many of the fundamental issues, methods and skills of the English major. Topics will range from the pragmatic (e.g., how do you scan a poem? what is free indirect discourse? how do you use the MLA bibliography, OED, JSTOR?) to the theoretical (how does a genre evolve in response to different historical conditions? what is the nature of canons and canonicity? why are questions of race, class, gender and sexuality so important to literary and cultural analysis?). Students will be given many hands-on opportunities to practice new skills and analytic techniques and to explore a range of critical and theoretical paradigms, approaches which should serve them well throughout their careers as English majors. Our discussions will focus on representative texts taken from three genres: drama (Shakespeare's "The Tempest"), the novel (Shelley's "Frankenstein", Woolf's "Mrs. Dalloway"), and lyric poetry (a variety of poems representing four centuries and several traditions). This counts toward the approaches to literary study requirement. Open only to first-year and sophomore students and is strongly recommended for anyone contemplating an English major. Prerequisite: ENGL 103 or 104.

This course introduces students to the fundamentals of prosody and poetics. "Ecstasy affords the occasion" for poetry, Marianne Moore wrote, "and expediency determines the form." We will read poems from a broad range of historical periods in a range of forms (sapphics, syllabics, sonnets, sestinas, etc.), as well as statements by poets, critics and theorists about the aims and effects of poetic form. In addition to a series of short critical analyses of poetry, students will practice writing in the forms studied. This counts toward the approaches to literary study requirement for the major. Open only to first-year and sophomore students. Prerequisite: ENGL 103 or 104. Offered every two years.

This course explores Anglophone literature from 1945 to the present through the lens of the catastrophic imaginaries of global climate change. We will examine carefully how writers have theorized, imagined, and represented the topic of environmental emergency in their works with inventive strategies that foreground racial, gender, economic, and environmental justice. In particular, we will encounter how these writers understand hope and justice in the world to come. Questions we will consider are: What is climate justice? What traces of nuclear rhetoric do we find in climate change literature? What does it mean to know—and resist—our extinction? What is hope in a prolonged emergency? In addition to reading some of the theoretical texts in the environmental humanities, we will attend carefully to the local impacts of climate change in Knox County. Students will produce research-driven projects that connect the local and global conditions of a changing world. Texts may include works by Craig Santos Perez, Kathy Jetn¯il-Kejiner, Keri Hulme, David Eggleton, Evelyn Flores, Ursula K. Le Guin, Octavia Butler, and Amitav Ghosh. This counts toward the post-1900 requirement for the English major. This course can also count towards the Environmental Studies major or concentration. Only open to first-year and sophomore students. Prerequisite: ENGL 103 or 104.

This course examines Pacific literature written in English since the early 20th century, attending to Oceania’s literary histories and experiences of colonialism and globalization. Students will engage with innovative Pacific novelists, short story writers and poets, who meditate on resistance, migration and anticolonialism in their works. Throughout we will ask: what narrative forms have emerged in response to the self-determination movements of the Pacific region? What role have gendered, racial and migrant identities played in the poetry of the Pacific diaspora? Readings may include works by Epeli Hau‘ofa, Patricia Grace, Hone Tuwhare, Craig Santos Perez, Albert Wendt, Sia Figiel, Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner, Robert Sullivan, Tusiata Avia and Selina Tusitala Marsh. Students will learn how to place Pacific authors within their historical and cultural contexts as well as develop their understanding of concepts such as postcolonialism and indigenous sovereignty. This counts toward the post-1900 requirement of the major. Prerequisite: junior standing or ENGL 210-291 or permission of instructor.

Audre Lorde once declared that “Poetry is not a luxury.” This course serves as an introduction to contemporary American poetry from 1945 to the present. While the themes and texts will vary between instructor, this course will pay attention to the production and decentering of American literary traditions and canons with respect to their socio-political and aesthetic contexts. Poets may include Robert Duncan, Muriel Rukeyser, Tommy Pico, Adrienne Rich, Amiri Baraka, Jericho Brown, Fatimah Asghar, Ilya Kaminsky, Hoa Nguyen, Evie Shockley, Wang Ping, C.D. Wright, Terrance, Hayes and many others. This counts toward the post-1900 requirement for the major. Prerequisite: junior standing or ENGL 210-291 or permission of instructor.

In recent years, there has been a renaissance of science writing for the common reader that combines literary and scientific merit: from Stephen Hawking's "A Brief History of Time" to Oliver Sacks' "The Man Who Mistook His Wife for A Hat", from Dava Sobel's "Longitude" to Rebecca Skloot's "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks," a series of books that explore scientific questions in a style that transcends the conventions of academic science writing or popular history have brought important questions from physics, biology, chemistry, neuroscience, and mathematics to wider public attention. Short form science journalism has become one of the most important areas of literary nonfiction, recognized both by annual awards from the American Association for the Advancement of Science and two different series of Best of American Science Writing anthologies. This interdisciplinary science writing course will combine literary analysis of exemplary essays on scientific topics with a writing workshop that requires students to do close observation of scientific processes, conduct independent research and interviews, interpret data, and present scientific information in highly readable form. Weekly readings will be selected from prize-winning science essays and the Best of American Science and Nature Writing series. We may also read one book-length work of science writing. Weekly writing assignments will include journals, observational accounts of science experiments, exercises in interpreting scientific data, interviews, narratives and a substantial research essay. This counts toward the approaches to literary study or post-1900 requirements for the major. No prerequisite.

This seminar will require students to undertake a research paper of their own design, within the context of a course that ranges across genres, literary periods and national borders. Students will study literary works within a variety of critical, historical, cultural and theoretical contexts. All sections of the course will seek to extend the range of interpretive strategies students can use to undertake a major literary research project. Each student will complete a research paper of 15 to 17 pages. Senior English majors pursuing an emphasis in literature are required to take instead ENGL 405. Students pursuing honors will take ENGL 497 rather than ENGL 410. Prerequisite: senior standing and English major or permission of instructor. Offered every year.

Individual study in English is a privilege reserved for senior majors who want to pursue a course of reading or complete a writing project on a topic not regularly offered in the curriculum. Because individual study is one option in a rich and varied English curriculum, it is intended to supplement, not take the place of, coursework, and it cannot normally be used to fulfill requirements for the major. An IS will earn the student 0.5 units of credit, although in special cases it may be designed to earn 0.25 units. To qualify to enroll in an individual study, a student must identify a member of the English department willing to direct the project. In consultation with that faculty member, the student must write a one-to two page proposal for the IS that the department chair must approve before the IS can go forward. The chair’s approval is required to ensure that no single faculty member becomes overburdened by directing too many IS courses. In the proposal, the student should provide a preliminary bibliography (and/or set of specific problems, goals and tasks) for the course, outline a specific schedule of reading and/or writing assignments, and describe in some detail the methods of assessment (e.g., a short story to be submitted for evaluation biweekly; a thirty-page research paper submitted at course’s end, with rough drafts due at given intervals). Students should also briefly describe any prior coursework that particularly qualifies them for their proposed individual studies. The department expects IS students to meet regularly with their instructors for at least one hour per week, or the equivalent, at the discretion of the instructor. The amount of work submitted for a grade in an IS should approximate at least that required, on average, in 400-level English courses. In the case of group individual studies, a single proposal may be submitted, assuming that all group members will follow the same protocols. Because students must enroll for individual studies by the seventh class day of each semester, they should begin discussion of their proposed individual study well in advance, preferably the semester before, so that there is time to devise the proposal and seek departmental approval before the established deadline.