Accessible Navigation. Go to: Navigation Main Content Footer

Faculty Image Robert Baker
Office: LA 219
Phone: (406) 243-5231



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 the relationships among literature, philosophy, and religion. 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 old metaphysical questions that are still with us. I have also published a translation of a volume of Char's poetry, The Word as Archipelago.

Field Of Study:

Comparative literature

Modern poetry of Europe and the Americas


Twentieth-century and contemporary literature

Theories of modernity

Relationships among literature, philosophy, and religion


Courses Taught in Recent Years:

   Modernist Poetry in an International Context

   Contemporary Poetry

   Literary Modernism

   Samuel Beckett

   Versions of Elegy

   History of Criticism


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)

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)

"C. D. Wright's Deepstep Come Shining: A Wheeling Collage," Genre 45.1 (2012)

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

Languages Known:

  • Spanish - advanced proficiency
  • French - advanced proficiency
  • Italian - general intermediate