Faculty Critical and Creative Studies

Rich Cole

Sessional Instructor, Liberal Studies

Rich Cole teaches literature and composition at ACAD, focusing on the relation between verbal and visual representations.

He helps students respond to the texts and images they encounter using clear, precise language. In the classroom, this involves talking about literary texts in tandem with film, design, theory, and works of art.

Focusing on a diverse array of cultural objects opens worlds because it necessitates a deep critical encounter with the force of receptivity. Understanding this force requires becoming aware of the process of seeing, of what you do when you construct the world by looking at it, by reading it, as well as writing and making art about what you see. We respond so passionately to the words and images we encounter in public life because they also possess the power to look back at us, to influence us, entice us, even make us change our minds.

In the act of response, we negotiate longstanding systems of power and classifications of value—that is, the assumptions and ideologies—that seek to hold apart and regulate the conventional boundaries between representational forms. If there is a unified approach to imagery, an iconography across the arts, it is one that must confront the world-shaping force of pictures and words as they combine to either awaken or restrict public debate, and thus to shape the cultural transmission of historical memory. In his own writing and research, the potential for words and images to become a terrain for struggle has led to publications on topics including minority recognition, colonial memory, cold war exile, federal murals, and the figure of the migrant. He is a graduate of the Cornell School of Criticism and Theory, and a commissioning editor for the experimental poetry journal Wave Composition.

Selected Professional Activity

Paper, “World Literature and the Uneven Demands of Collective History.” World Literature Beyond the Novel, American Comparative Literature Association Conference, Utrecht University, Netherlands, 2017.

Paper, “Decolonizing Racial Recognition: Elizabeth Bishop Travels North Near Uncle Tom’s Cabin.” The Politics of Recognition in Action, Irish and British Association for American Studies Conference, Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland, 2016.

Panel Series Co-organizer (with Jenn Andrews, UNB) on cross-border relations for The Irish and British Association of American Studies Conference, Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland, 2016.

Paper, “Two Concepts of American Sovereignty in the Postwar Humanitarian Narrative,” Labor and Freedom, Neoliberalism and American Literature Conference, Clinton Institute of American Studies, University College Dublin, Ireland, 2015.

Paper, “The Trouble With the Underclass in the Black Rights Protest Novel.” Testimony and Recognition, Human Rights and the Mobilization of Testimony, Cultural Memory Studies Institute, Ghent University, Belgium, 2015.

Paper, “Urban Policy and the Fate of the Poetic Lexicon.” At What Cost Change? Language Preservation, Identity, and Public Policy, Modern Language Association Convention, Boston, Massachusetts, 2013.

Session Chair and Roundtable Co-organizer (with Jonathan Eburne, Penn State), Modernism and the Monument, Modernist Studies Association Conference 15, University of Sussex, 2013.

Session Chair and Panel Co-organizer (with Julie Taylor, Northumbria), Modernism and Public Emotion, Then and Now, Modernist Studies Association Conference 15, University of Sussex, 2013.

Paper, “Cold War Pastoral: Ashbery’s Ecopoetics and Esposito’s Bios.” Embodied Ecopoetics, Conference on Ecopoetics, University of California, Berkeley, 2013.

Paper, “Frank O’Hara and Newsstand Synesthesia in ‘Biotherm’.” Defense and Containment, Oxford Poetry and Psychoanalysis Conference, Exeter College, University of Oxford, 2012.

Selected Publications

Journal Articles and Book Chapters

“Rights and Losses: The Ends of Minority Recognition in Joyce and International Law.” Joyce and the Law, edited by Jonathan Goldman, James Joyce Series, University of Florida Press, 2017, pp. 84-104.

“Cold War Exile and the Longing for Non-State Refuge: John Ashbery’s American School in Paris.” Cartographies of Exile: A New Spatial Literacy, edited by Karen Bishop, Routledge, 2016, pp.153-72.

“Fear and Precarious Life after Political Representation in Baudelaire.” Modernism and Affect: Feeling in Modern Literature and Culture, edited by Julie Taylor, Edinburgh University Press, 2015,
pp. 148-66.

“Cold Modernism, Eros, and H.D.’s Hieroglyphic Femme Fatale.” H.D. and Modernity, edited by Hélène Aji, Antoine Cazé et al, Presses de l’École Normale Supérieure [Paris, France], 2014, pp. 43-49.

“Artists in Uniform: Mural Work, Public Archives, and the Invention of a Usable Past.” Shift: Journal of Visual and Material Culture, vol. 3, 2010, pp. 1-29. 

Review Essays

“Michael Davidson’s Cosmopoetics: Review of On the Outskirts of Form: Practicing Cultural Poetics.” Canadian Review of Comparative Literature, vol. 40, no. 2, June 2013, pp. 228-231.
Robin Blaser by Stan Persky and Brian Fawcett. The Malahat Review: Essential Poetry and Fiction. University of Victoria, no. 176, Fall 2011, pp. 157-61.

Calm Things by Shauna Lemay. The Malahat Review: Essential Poetry and Fiction. University of Victoria, no. 165, Fall 2009, pp. 143-46.


“‘Back Through the Ear’s Narrowed Estuary’: Rich Cole in Conversation with Steven Heighton - 2011 Winner of P. K. Page Founders’ Award for Poetry.” The Malahat Review, Online Edition, 2011.

Creative Works

Artist Book, Paper Bodies (After Walter Benjamin). Poems by Rich Cole. Images by Jill Ho-You. First exhibition at FAB: Fine Arts Gallery, University of Alberta. 2012. Re-exhibitions: Harcourt House, Edmonton, December 2013; Southern Graphics Council International Printmaking Exhibition, San Francisco, CA, 2014; 7th International Printmaking Biennial of Douro, Portugal, 2014.

Translation and Footnotes, Paul Valéry’s "Agathe." Wave Composition, no. 3, 2011. 

Poem-Image Series, “Four Variations on a Material Event" (with Anna Gaby-Trotz and Jill Ho-You). Exhibited at Printopolis: International Symposium on Printmaking. Open Studio: Toronto, ON. Oct. 1-31, 2010.