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Peter Michelson Papers

Identifier: MSN/MN 10027

Scope and Contents

This collection details the writings and activities of Peter Michelson, an American poet and professor teaching at several universities around the United States. It contains records of his professional and academic career, including articles, article drafts, and related research; poetry and related drafts; monograph manuscripts, manuscript drafts, and related materials; and teaching materials and student papers. Also included in the collection are professional and personal correspondence, travel documents, and Michelson’s notebooks. Significant topics represented in the collection are poetry, and obscenity and erotica. A smaller portion of the collection also documents Michelson’s involvement in several publications, including The Purple Sage and Rolling Stock. Michelson’s publications well represented in the collection include The Aesthetics of Pornography and Pacific Plainsong. Materials include manuscripts, clippings, postcards, audiocassettes, color photographs, journals, brochures, and pamphlets.


  • Creation: 1967 - 2016


Conditions Governing Access

Folders 43, 50, and 133 are restricted.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright status for collection materials is unknown. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

Biographical / Historical

The American poet, author and professor Peter Michelson was born December 23, 1935, raised in a suburb of Seattle by a single mother. He attended Whitman College and received his B.A. in English in 1958. He received an M.A. in literature from the University of Wyoming in 1959, and was “all but dissertation” for a doctorate in history of literary criticism from the University of Chicago. He taught at several colleges and universities, including as an instructor at Jamestown College in North Dakota from 1959-1960; at Northwestern University from 1962-1965 as an instructor and 1971-1974 as an assistant professor; at the University of Notre Dame from 1965-1969 as an instructor and assistant professor, where he also hosted a national conference on pornography in 1969; and the University of Colorado, Boulder, from 1974 to present, as an associate professor, professor, and now professor emeritus after his 2006 retirement. He has also taught at Tianjin Foreign Language Institute in China, where he was a visiting professor in 1982; at Eastern University in Batticaloa, Sri Lanka, where he was a curriculum consultant in 1992; and at Abo Akademi and Turku Yliopisto in Finland on a Fulbright Lectureship in 2001 and 2002.

Michelson published The Aesthetics of Pornography in 1971, and The Eater, his first collection of poems, in 1972. He published two more books of poetry in the late 1970s and 1980s; Pacific Plainsong first appeared in 1978, and then in an expanded second edition in 1987, and When the Revolution Really in 1984. His second book of criticism, Speaking the Unspeakable: A Poetics of Obscenity, published in 1992. Throughout the last six decades his essays, poems, and articles have been published in numerous anthologies and publications, including The American Book Review, The Chicago Review, The Nation, New Republic, and Rolling Stock, among others.


6 Cubic Feet

Language of Materials



The collection is in one series, arranged in the order of manuscripts, correspondence, and clippings and other publications.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The collection was given to the University by Peter Michelson.

Peter Michelson Papers
Under Revision
Amanda Gray
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the University of Notre Dame Rare Books & Special Collections Repository

102 Hesburgh Library
Notre Dame IN 46556