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English Faculty

Ernest Suarez – David M. O'Connell Professor and Chair of the Department of English, President of the Association of Literary Scholars, Critics and Writers



Dr. Ernest Suarez has been on the faculty at CUA since 1991 and served as the Chair of the English Department from 1995 to 2015. Dr. Suarez’s main area of interest is southern literature, particularly southern verse, and his most recent work centers on how poetry, blues and rock intersected to usher in a new era of verse composition in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

Currently, Dr. Suarez is co-authoring a book with Mike Mattison (Scrapomatic, Derek Trucks Band, Tedeschi Trucks Band) on how blues helped open rock to poetic influences. Suarez and Mattison also edit a regular feature, "Hot Rocks: Song and Verse" for Five Points: A Journal of Literature and Art, and Dr. Suarez writes occasional articles on music for the Washington Post.
Dr. Suarez was selected as the James E. Dornan Memorial Professor of the Year at Catholic University (1993-1994), the District of Columbia Professor of the Year (1999) by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, and was the recipient of William H. Kadel Distinguished Alumni Award (2000) from Eckerd College. He was a Senior Fulbright Fellow in Spain (1999) and China (2005-2006), and serves on the editorial boards of The Texas ReviewThe James Dickey NewsletterES: Revista de Filología Inglesa, and on the Advisory Board of the Robert Penn Warren Circle. He served on the Editorial Board of the South Atlantic Review from 1993 to 1996 and as the judge for the Dictionary of Literary Biography Award for Distinguished Volume of Poetry from 2000 to 2004. He is Vice President of the Association of Literary Scholars, Critics and Writers. He was named the Virginia Beall Bell Ball Lecturer in Contemporary Poetry at Baylor University for Spring 2016.
An interview with Dr. Suarez regarding the focus of CUA’s English Department appeared in “Ordinarily Professing: An Interview with Ernest Suarez” Literary Matters: The Newsletter of the Association of Literary Scholars and Critics, Vol. 1.2, Fall 2008: 21-23 and can be accessed via





Selected recent publications

“Writing the South: Twentieth Century Southern Poetry”
The Cambridge History of American Poetry (2015): 795-820.

“You Say You Want a Revolution: The Blues, Poetry and Rock”
Five Points: A Journal of Literature and Art, Vol. XV, no. 3, 2013: 145-167.

“Reflections on James Dickey”
Five Points: A Journal of Literature and Art, Vol. xv, nos. 1 & 2, 2013: 286-315.

“Southern Verse in Poetry and Song”
The Cambridge Companion to the Literature of the American South (2013): 72-87.

“Fate, Faith and Confession in ‘Long Day’s Journey into Night’ ”
Journal of Law, Philosophy and Culture, Vol. IV, no. 1, Spring, 2011: 325-344.

“Amazing Grace: The Aesthetics of a Spiritual Quest”
Essays on David Bottoms, William Walsh, ed., McFarland, 2010: 45-56.

“The War Poetry of James Dickey and Yusef Komunyakaa”
James Dickey Review, Vol. XXVI (I-II), Summer 2010: 9-13.


I'm Just Dead, I'm Not Gone
James Luther Dickinson, author.  
Ernest Suarez, editor and “Introduction.”
(Forthcoming, University of Mississippi Press, 2016)
James Dickey and the Politics of Canon: Assessing the Savage Ideal, Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1993.
Southbound: Interviews with Southern Poets. Trey Stanford and Amy Verner, assistants. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1999.

Recent Lectures, Readings and Conference Papers:         

“Two Takes on Verse Composition.” Session leader for panels on “Cleanth Brooks, John Crowe Ransom, Robert Penn Warren and their Circle: The New Criticism and Creative Practice” and “Singing the South: Blues and Verse Composition.” Association of Literary Critics, Scholars and Writers, Athens, GA, April 5, 2013.
“ ‘Weird scenes inside the goldmine’: The Poetry of Rock during the Cold War,” The Cold War and American Music, 1945-2000. Center for Advanced Studies, University of Munich, June 23, 2012.
“A Celebration of Robert Penn Warren’s Poetry,” Seminar co-leader with Dave Smith. October 27-28, 2011, The Catholic University of America.
“Robert Penn Warren and Southern Poetry in the Mid-Twentieth Century.” Robert Penn Warren Circle, April, 2011.


Selected Awards, Grants, and Editorial Positions

Robert Penn Warren Circle Advisory Board, 2011-present.

Editorial Board, Literary Matters
Fulbright Fellow, Sun Yat-sen University (China), September 2005-July 2006.
History of the Blues Subcommittee, Rock and Roll Library, Cambridge Massachusetts, 2006-present.
History of Rock Subcommittee, Rock and Roll Library, Cambridge Massachusetts, 2006-present.
Nominee for 2006 Robert F. Cherry Award for the United States’ Top Teacher/Scholar, Nominated by Catholic University, 2004.



Office: 121 Marist Annex 
The Catholic University of America
620 Michigan Ave.
Washington, D.C. 20064

Phone: 202-319-5488



  • ENG 381: Poetry and Rock in the Age of Dickey and Dylan
  • ENG 390: Literature of the American South
  • ENG 431/2: Senior Seminar: Faulkner and Warren
  • ENG 598: Politics, Criticism and American Literature: 1930-1970
  • ENG 881: Modern American Poetry
  • ENG 897: Contemporary Southern Poetry
  • ENG 859: Seminar: Crit. & Practice in 20th Century Poetry


Ph.D.: American Literature (with Film minor), University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1989

M.A.: English, University of South Florida, 1984

B.A.: Psychology, Eckerd College, 1980

Areas of Expertise

  • 20th-century American literature
  • Literature of the American South
  • Verse composition in poetry, blues, rock and jazz