Robert Baker

Robert Baker

Professor | Director of Graduate Studies

Office: LA 219
Office Hours:

Wednesday 1-3; & by appointment

Personal Website


Courses Taught in Recent Years:

   Contemporary Poetry

   Modernist Poetry

   Virginia Woolf

   Samuel Beckett


   Pastoral, Vitalism, and Ecology

Personal Summary

My background is in comparative literature, and my primary fields of interest are modern poetry from the romantic period through the present, twentieth-century and contemporary literature, and literature and philosophy. Usually I teach courses in modernist or contemporary literature. In my first book, The Extravagant: Crossings of Modern Poetry and Modern Philosophy, I trace a history of attempts in modern poetry and philosophy to re-articulate, in secular terms, experiences of awakened life and widened vision once articulated in religious languages. The book includes detailed discussions of Kant, Wordsworth, Lyotard, Rimbaud, Nietzsche, Bataille, Kierkegaard, Dickinson, Mallarmé, and Derrida. My second book, In Dark Again in Wonder: The Poetry of René Char and George Oppen, is a study of two late modernist poets, one French and the other American, both of whom were fully engaged in the political upheavals of the 1930s and 1940s, both of whom turned time and again to older metaphysical questions that are still with us. I have also published a translation of a volume of Char's poetry, The Word as Archipelago. In the book I'm currently working on, The Broken and the Mended, I try to illuminate the relation between older metaphysical horizons of concern and issues in contemporary culture, in particular issues in contemporary ecological theory. 


Cornell University

   Ph.D., Comparative Literature, 1997

   M.A., Comparative Literature, 1993

University of Wisconsin, Madison

   B.A., English, 1988

Universidad Complutense, Madrid, Spain (Fall 1986)

Field of Study

Poetry and poetics

Modern poetry of Europe and the Americas


Twentieth-century and contemporary literature

Theories of modernity

Literature and philosophy

Selected Publications


The Word as Archipelago, a translation of René Char's La Parole en archipel (Omnidawn, 2012)

In Dark Again in Wonder: The Poetry of René Char and George Oppen (University of Notre Dame Press, 2012)

The Extravagant: Crossings of Modern Poetry and Modern Philosophy (University of Notre Dame Press, 2005)

Recent Articles

"Forrest Gander's Phenomenology of Encounter," Paideuma (forthcoming)

"What Do We Mean When We Talk about Transcendence? Plato and Virginia Woolf," Philosophy and Literature (forthcoming)

"'A Kinship between Air and Awareness': Mei-mei Berssenbrugge's Hello, the Roses," ISLE (forthcoming)

"The Art of Masks in Anne Carson and Samuel Beckett," Chicago Review, website (October 2018)

"Versions of Ascesis in Louise Glück's Poetry," The Cambridge Quarterly 47.2 (June 2018)

"'All voices should be read as the river's mutterings': The Poetry of Alice Oswald," The Cambridge Quarterly 46.2 (June 2017)

"The Poetics of Encounter: Paul Celan's 'Psalm' and George Oppen's 'Psalm,'" Religion and Literature 48.1 (Spring 2016)

"The Sprawling Genius of Thylias Moss," Religion and Literature 47.3 (Autumn 2015)

"C. D. Wright's Deepstep Come Shining: A Wheeling Collage," Genre 45:1 (Spring 2012)


Affiliate of Global Humanities and Religion