Meredith Benjamin headshot

Meredith Benjamin

Lecturer in First-Year Writing


English, First Year Foundation


271 LeFrak, Barnard Hall
T 2:30-4pm & by appt.


Meredith Benjamin works on 20th and 21st century American literature, women’s writing, feminist and queer theory, life writing, and writing pedagogy. Her current project, Writing Feminism: Archives and Community Formation in U.S. Feminist Literature, explores the role of writing and engagement with archives in shaping feminist communities. She received her Ph.D. from the English Department at the Graduate Center, CUNY, with a certificate in Women’s Studies.  

Her work has been published in Tulsa Studies in Women's Literature, Women’s Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal, American Periodicals, and The Edith Wharton Review and is forthcoming in Post45. She previously taught at Baruch College, CUNY.

In 2018, she co-organized the AALAC-funded workshop on “Writing and Critical Inquiry in the First-Year Classroom,” hosted by Barnard. 


First-Year Writing: Wild Tongues
First-Year Writing: Bodies & Desires
First-Year Writing Workshop
First-Year Seminar: Feminism & the Politics of Anger
Feminist Life Writing
Academic Writing Intensive
Critical Writing

  • PhD, MPhil, MA: The Graduate Center, CUNY
  • BA, Fordham University

  • First-Year Writing: Women & Culture
  • First-Year Writing Workshop: Women & Culture
  • First-Year Seminar: Feminism & the Politics of Anger

  • Gloria Anzaldúa CMAS-Benson Latin American Collection Short-Term Research Fellowship, University of Texas at Austin, 2016.
  • Annette Kolodny Award, Women’s Caucus for the Modern Languages (MLA), 2015.
  • Dissertation Year Fellowship, Leon Levy Center for Biography, 2014-2015.                   
  • Advanced Research Collaborative (ARC) Knickerbocker Award for Archival Research in American Studies, CUNY Graduate Center,  2014.               
  • Writing Across the Curriculum Fellowship, LaGuardia Community College, 2013-2014.
  • Advanced Research Collaborative (ARC) Knickerbocker Award for Archival Research in American Studies, CUNY Graduate Center, 2013.  

  • Modern Language Association (MLA)
  • National Women's Studies Association (NWSA)

“Theory as Performance in the Composition Classroom,” Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC) Annual Convention, Pittsburgh, PA: 2019.

"Turning Toward What is Difficult": Uncertainty & Feminist Pedagogy in the First-Year Writing Classroom.” on “Feminist Pedagogy and Teaching Writing” panel (Presidential Theme Session), Modern Language Association (MLA) Convention. Chicago, IL: January 2019. 

“’The Intimacy of Scrutiny’: Affect, Intimacy, and Feminist Publics in the Work of Audre Lorde and Adrienne Rich,” National Women's Studies Association (NWSA). Atlanta, GA: November 2018.

“From Survival Sourcebook to Magazine: Chrysalisand its Feminist Communities,” National Women's Studies Association (NWSA). Atlanta, GA: November 2018.

“Beyond Recovery: Memory & the Archive in Contemporary Feminist Scholarship,” Modern Language Association (MLA) Convention. New York, NY: January 2018.

“A Justice Between Them”: Audre Lorde & Adrienne Rich’s Letters as Anti-Racist Praxis." National Women's Studies Association (NWSA). Baltimore, MD: November 2017.

“Feminism, Uncertainty, and Difficulty in the Writing Classroom,” The Aesthetics and Ethics of Teaching Writing, NYU. New York, NY: October 2017.

“Entering the Lives of Others”: Feminist Anthologies as Activism." American Literature Association Conference. Boston, MA: May 2017.

"Editing Women's Culture: Feminist Politics and Poetics in Chrysalis." Summoning the Archive: A Symposium on the Periodical, Printed Matter, and Digital Archiving. Institute for Public Knowledge, NYU. New York, NY: May 2017.

“'Emotional/Political Chronologies': Michelle Cliff and Cherríe Moraga’s Decolonial
Autobiographies,” National Women’s Studies Association (NWSA) Annual Conference 2016: Decoloniality. Montréal, Canada: November 2016.

“Representations of Women’s Sexuality in the Core Curriculum: Challenges and Strategies,” Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA) Convention. Hartford, CT: March 2016.

“Performing This Bridge Called My Back,” Modern Language Association (MLA) Convention. Austin, TX: January 2016.

“An Anthology’s Archive: This Bridge Called My Back,” National Women’s Studies Association (NWSA) Annual Conference 2015: Precarity. Milwaukee, WI: November 2015.

“Claiming Identities: Feminists of Color and Hybrid Autobiographies,” Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA) Convention. Toronto, Canada: May 2015.

"From Recovery to Reconstitution: Feminist Letters and the Archive," Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA) Convention. Toronto, Canada: May 2015.

“Adrienne Rich and the Poetics of the Archival Impulse,” American Literature Association (ALA): Symposium on American Poetry. Savannah, GA: October 2014.

“Engaging Feminism’s Archive,” Archival Research Conference, CUNY Graduate Center, New York, NY: September 2014.

“‘That profoundly female, and feminist, genre’: Uses of the Diary in Feminist Texts,” Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA) Convention. Harrisburg, PA: April 2014.

“Never in Time: Queer Temporality in Djuna Barnes's Nightwood," Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA) Convention. Harrisburg, PA: April 2014.

“Snapshots and Shifting Pronouns: Adrienne Rich’s Poetics of Location,” Princeton Comparative Poetics Colloquium: Poetry and Social Life. Princeton, NJ: May 2013.

“Snapshots of a Feminist Poet: Adrienne Rich and the Poetics of the Archive,” Women’s Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 46:7 (2017), 628-645.

“A Genre Apart: Considering Edith Wharton’s ‘The Life Apart’ in the Tradition of Women’s Diaries.” The Edith Wharton Review, 28.1 (Spring 2012): 20-31.

My First-Year Writing syllabus often begins with the following epigraph from Audre Lorde, in her now-classic essay “The Transformation of Silence into Language and Action”: “Each of us is here now because in one way or another we share a commitment to language and to the power of language, and to the reclaiming of that language which has been made to work against us…For those of us who write, it is necessary to scrutinize not only the truth of what we speak, but the truth of that language by which we speak it.” Her words here sum up to me the goals of our First-Year Writing course: to critically examine the language in both the texts we’ll study and in our own writing. Instead of writing to demonstrate knowledge, my courses focus on how students can use writing to generate knowledge of their own. 


My courses emphasize writing as a process, and I aim to give students a number of tools and practical strategies for all stages of that process, from reading to drafting to revision. As you go through the course, you’ll develop a clearer sense of your own process as a writer and which tools are most useful to you. From there, I hope you’ll be empowered to take those strategies forward to the other writing projects you’ll craft throughout your college career. 


Feminism and feminist writing are both the subjects of my own research and formative influences on my teaching. My own current research looks at how U.S. feminist writers in the 1970s and 80s moved from simply recovering the lives and works of women of the past to engaging with them in a way that reconstituted their own sense of the present and the future. This is a paradigm I aspire to in my writing courses—to help students move from simply recovering knowledge to actively engaging with it and thinking critically about how it allows them to reconstitute their own sense of the world. Recently, I’ve been thinking about these ideas in relation to Sara Ahmed’s book Living a Feminist Life, in which she proposes “the necessity of wavering with our convictions,” explaining that “If a feminist tendency is what we work for, that tendency does not give us a stable ground.” My goal is to help my students begin to see themselves as scholars—taking these kinds of intellectual risks and positioning themselves in debates and conversations through critical inquiry. 


I began teaching at Barnard in 2015, and have been a Lecturer since 2019. From 2016-2019, I served as the Postdoctoral Fellow in First-Year Writing, working with faculty and students across the college on what writing looks like in their discipline. Accordingly, I’m focused on how the work we do in First-Year Writing will connect to the writing that you’ll do during the rest of your time at Barnard, no matter what fields of study you pursue. I teach both First-Year Writing and First-Year Writing Workshop, as well as a course called Feminism and the Politics of Anger in the First-Year Seminar program.

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