Erik Mortenson is a literary scholar, writer, translator, and writing center consultant at Lake Michigan College in Benton Harbor, Michigan.  After earning a PhD from Wayne State University in Detroit, Erik spent a year as a Fulbright Lecturer in Germany before journeying to Koç University in Istanbul to help found the English and Comparative Literature Department.  After spending more than a decade abroad, he returned to the U.S. shortly after the 2016 coup (see his article in The Smart Set here). His scholarly work focuses on American literary and visual texts and their intersection with the cultural concerns of the twentieth-century. Erik has published numerous journal articles and book chapters, as well as three books.  Capturing the Beat Moment: Cultural Politics and the Poetics of Presence (Southern Illinois UP, 2011) examines “the moment” as one of the primary motifs of Beat writing, and won a CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title award. His second book, Ambiguous Borderlands: Shadow Imagery in Cold War American Culture (Southern Illinois UP, 2016), investigates the role shadows play in Cold War literary and popular texts, looking specifically at Beat poetry, postwar photography, film noir, and Twilight Zone episodes to explain why shadow imagery had such a hold on American imaginations at mid-century.  Erik's most recent work, Translating the Counterculture:  The Reception of the Beats in Turkey (Southern Illinois UP, 2018), explores how the Beats have been received in Turkey as “underground literature” and what happens when transgressive texts cross national, political, religious, and cultural borders.  In addition to his scholarly work, Erik is engaged in numerous creative projects and collaborations.  He has just finished a memoir of his time in bohemian Detroit, and currently writes obituaries for the company Beloved.  Erik is also an avid translator whose work has appeared in journals such as Asymptote, Talisman, and Two Lines.  In his spare time he enjoys playing racquet sports, swimming in Lake Michigan, gardening organically and cooking for his friends and family.

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