Dr. Peter Baker Jr



Contact Info

LA 4334


A.B. English and American Literature, Harvard University 1978
M.A. The Writing Seminars, Johns Hopkins University 1979
Ph.D. Comparative Literature, Brown University 1985

Areas of Expertise

Literary Theory
Modern World Literature


Peter N. Baker, Jr. was born in 1955 in Oak Park, Illinois where he grew up and attended public schools.  As an undergraduate creative writing major at Harvard he founded and edited the first three issues of Padan aram, the Harvard-Radcliffe Poetry Magazine.  During his six years of graduate work in Comparative Literature at Brown University, he had the opportunity to live and study in Aix-en-Provence, France for a year and a half, first as a Fulbright scholar and then as the recipient of a Saint-John Perse Foundation Fellowship.  Before coming to Towson, Professor Baker taught for four years at Southern Connecticut State University, where in 1987 he was recognized as the Faculty Scholar of the Year for his first book.

Professor Baker came to Towson University in 1989 to teach Literary Theory and modern world literature generally.  At Towson, he was a member of the inaugural class of the Faculty Leadership Institute in 1995-1996.  He was also an Honors College Faculty Fellow from 2005 until 2008, and in 2014 he was recognized as the Honors College Professor of the Year.  While at Towson Professor Baker has published an additional seven scholarly books, either single-authored (two) or edited (five).  Including his time at SCSU, he has published nineteen articles, three review essays, and has presented conference papers at forty-three local, national and international conferences.  His most recent publication (2014) is The Selected Letters of Robert Creeley, co-edited with Rod Smith and Kaplan Harris.



Modern Poetic Practice: Structure and Genesis, Peter Lang, 1986.

Obdurate Brilliance: Exteriority and the Modern Long Poem, University Press of Florida, 1991.

Deconstruction and the Ethical Turn, University Press of Florida, 1995.

Edited Volumes:

The Scope of Words: In Honor of Albert S. Cook, with co-editors Sarah Webster Goodwin and Gary Handwerk, Peter Lang, 1991.

ONWARD: Contemporary Poetry and Poetics, Peter Lang, 1996.

Albert Cook, Forces in Modern and Postmodern Poetry, Edited by Peter Baker, Peter Lang, 2008.

Detecting Detection: International Perspectives on the Uses of a Plot, with co-editor Deborah Shaller, Bloomsbury, June, 2012.

The Selected Letters of Robert Creeley, with co-editors Kaplan Harris and Rod Smith, University of California Press, January 2014.


“Is The Savage Detectives a Detective Story?” in Detecting Detection, Eds. Peter Baker and Deborah Shaller, London and New York: Continuum Press, 2012, 27-41.

“Perse on Poetry,” in Souffle de Perse Hors-Série N⁰1, December 2010, 101-108.  [Reprint of 1988 article.]

“Literary Theory and the Role of the University,” in Beyond the Corporate University, Henry Giroux and Kostas Myrsiades (eds.), Oxford: Rowman and Littlefield, 2001, 57-70.

“Saint-John Perse et ‘le monde entier des choses,’” in Souffle de Perse 8, 1998, 10-17.

“Deconstruction and the Question of Violence: Pulp Fiction vs. fictions légitimes,” in Symploke 4:1-2, 21-40, 1996 [1997].

“African-American Creativity in Film and Popular Culture: Menace II Society, Violence, and Deconstruction” Proceedings of the Towson State University Multi-disciplinary Conference on the Scholarship and Creativity of African Americans 1995-1996, 58-63.

“Bernadette Mayer,” Dictionary of Literary Biography, American Poets Since WW II, ed. Joseph Conte, Gale Press, 1996, 165-172.

“Literary Theory and the Role of the University,” College Literature 22:2 (1995), 1-15.

“Code of Communication: Conduit or Crypt?” Aerial 8 (1995), 250-259.

“The Terrorist as Interpreter: Mao II in Postmodern Context,” Postmodern Culture 4:2 (January 1994) [e-journal, no pagination].                                                                      

“Blackburn's Gift,” in Sagetrieb 12:1 (1993), 43-54.

“‘To Disarm the Cryptogram’: The Languages of Contemporary Poetry,” The Centennial Review 32:2 (1992), 231-241.

Jeux sans frontières: Increasing Internationalism in College Classes,” Perspectives (Journal of the AGLS) 21:2 (1991), 23-28.

“Metric, Naming and Exile: Perse / Pound / Genet,” in The Scope of Words (1991), 39-58.

“Poetic Subjectivity in Olson's Maximus Poems,” Sagetrieb 9:1/2 (1990), 185-199.

“Exile in Language,” Studies in Twentieth Century Literature 14:2 (1990), 205-222.

“Perse on Poetry,” The Connecticut Review 11:1 (1988), 55-59.

“The Sexuation of Poetic Language in Saint-John Perse's Anabase,” French Forum 12:1 (1987), 109-118.

“The Poet's Body: Toward a Semiotic of Whitman and Rimbaud,” Semiotica 64:3/4 (1987), 297-305.

Review Essays:

“The Fate of Modern Poetries,” Anne Day Dewey,  Beyond Maximus: The Construction of Public Voice in Black Mountain Poetry, G. Matthew Jenkins,  Poetic Obligation: Ethics in American Poetry After 1945, Peter Nicholls, George Oppen and the Fate of Modernism, in College Literature 35.4 (Fall 2008), 188-197.

“Directions in Left Theory,” Edward Said, Culture and Imperialism, and Fredric Jameson, The Geopolitical Aesthetic, in the minnesota review 41-42 (1995), 262-270.

“Languages of Modern Poetry,” Alison Rieke, The Senses of Non-Sense, and Linda Reinfeld, Language Poetry: Writing as Rescue, in College Literature 21:2 (1994), 151-155.

Papers and Presentations:

“Detecting Detection: Is The Savage Detectives a Detective Story?” Sabbatical Presentation Towson University, December 7, 2012.

“Becoming Bernadette: Experimental Text Production and the Ambivalence of Authorship,” National Poetry Foundation Conference: Poetry of the 1970s, University of Maine, June 11-15, 2008.

“Literary Migrations: Creeley and Blackburn,” College English Association, Middle Atlantic Group, Spring Conference, Montgomery College, Rockville, MD, March 8, 2008.

“The Ethics of Editing Creeley’s Selected Letters,” College English Association, Middle Atlantic Group, Spring Conference, Montgomery College, Rockville, MD, March 10, 2007.

“Derrida and the Languages of Philosophy,” Keynote Address, 5th Annual Undergraduate Philosophy Conference, Towson University, April 12, 2005.

Roundtable Participant, DERRIDA ... COSA MENTALE, Enactments for Jacques in harmony with Hélène Cixous, Georgetown University, March 31, 2005.

“Giving Up: Agamben on Potentiality,” Philosophy Forum, Towson University, October 6, 2004.

“Giving Up: Henri Michaux’s Border Crossings,” Kentucky Foreign Language Conference, Lexington, April 18-20, 2002.

“Doing Justice to Disability,”  CLA Colloquium: Cultures of Nature / The Nature of Culture, Towson University, March 7, 2001.

“Disability and Witness: The Sweet Hereafter,” MLA Convention, Washington, D.C., December 27-30, 2000.

“Sartrean Ethics: Historical Contingency and Political Agency,” 25th Annual Philosophy Colloquium, Towson University, November 8, 2000.

“Cultural Studies *at the edge of* Aesthetics,” American Society for Aesthetics, Eastern Division Meeting Cultural Studies and Aesthetics, Towson University, March 18-20,1999.

“Kamau Brathwaite’s Word Power,” Annual Conference on African-American Scholarship and Creativity, Towson University, April 25-27, 1998.

“Writing the Gift,” (Invited Presentation), American University Ethics and Poetics Event, March 28, 1998.

“Writing the Gift,” English Department Symposium Series, Towson University, October 15, 1997.

“‘Le monde entier des choses: Saint-John Perse et l’invention de l’Amérique,” International Saint-John Perse Foundation Conference, Cassis, France, April 4, 1997.

“Anamorphosis and the Violence of Representation,” International Society for the Study of European Institutions Conference, Utrecht, Holland, August 11-19, 1996.

“Creeley’s Gift, American Poetry of the Fifties Conference, National Poetry Foundation, Orono, Maine, June 6-11, 1996.

Pulp Fiction, Deconstruction and Film Violence,” SAMLA Conference, Atlanta, November 3-5, 1995.

“Virtual Ethics: Deconstruction and Film Violence,” IAPL International Conference, Philadelphia, May 10-13, 1995.

“African American Creativity in Film and Popular Culture (Menace II Society),” Multidisciplinary Conference on African American Scholarship and Creativity, TSU,        April 27-30, 1995.

“Georges Perec's `Negative' Autobiography,” Kentucky Foreign Language Conference, Lexington, April 20-22, 1995.

“Nineties Noir: Theory and Practice,” SAMLA Conference, Baltimore, November 11-13, 1994.

“Pasolini's Use of Residual Space in Accattone,” Literature/Film Conference, TSU, November 3-5, 1994.

“Literary Theory and the Role of the University,” University Lecture, TSU, April 20, 1994.

“The Cold War at Home: Pynchon's Vineland,” NEMLA Conference, Pittsburgh, April 8-9, 1994.

“Deconstruction and the Question of Violence,” Philosophy Forum, TSU, March 16, 1994.

“The Terrorist as Interpreter: The Crying Game,” Literature/Film Conference, Ocean City, MD, December 2-5, 1993.

“What About Bernadette? Sex, Gender, Ideology and the Work of Bernadette Mayer,” NEMLA Conference, Philadelphia, March 26-28, 1993.

“The `Impossible' Ethics in Derrida's Philosophy,” Philosophy Forum, TSU, November 18, 1992.

“Apocalyptic Utopianism and Intertextuality in Wim Wenders' Until the End of the World,” Literature/Film Conference, TSU, June 17-20, 1992 (Session Chair).

“`To Disarm the Cryptogram': The Languages of Contemporary Poetry,” NEMLA Conference, Buffalo, April 2-5, 1992.

The Silence of the Lambs as Feminist Text,” SAMLA Conference, Atlanta, November 14-16, 1991.

“The Ethical Feminism of Julia Kristeva” (long version), CLA Symposium Series: Toward a New Theory? TSU, September 25, 1991.

“The Ethical Feminism of Julia Kristeva” (short version), IAPL Annual Conference, Montréal, May 16-18, 1991.

“Is There a Theory of `Language Poetry'?” NEMLA Conference, Hartford, April 5-7, 1991.

“‘Normative’ Feminism and Experimental Writing by Women,” MLA Convention, Chicago, December 27-30, 1990 (Session Chair).

“The Ethical Force of Hermetic Texts (Stein and Zukofsky),” CLA Symposium Series: Theory and the Text, TSU, December 5, 1990.

Jeux sans frontières: Increasing Internationalism in the College Classroom,” AGLS Convention, Baltimore, October 25-27, 1990.

“Perse on Poetry,” Southern Connecticut State University, February 4, 1988.

“L'acte du savoir: Vents de Saint-John Perse,” Saint-John Perse International Centennial Conference Washington, D.C., December 4-5, 1987.

“Language, Poetry and Marginality” NEMLA Conference, Boston, April 2-4, 1987.

“Postmodern Poetics of Community: Perse and Char,” Twentieth Century French Studies Conference Duke University, March 12-14, 1987.


Advisory Editor, College Literature, 1994-2011.

Series Editor, Studies in Modern Poetry, 1993-present (nineteen books and counting).