About

I am an Associate Professor in the Department of English at the University of Texas at Austin, where I am also a Junior Fellow of the British Studies Program, and frequently teach for Plan II Honors. A founding member of the Executive Team for the Good Systems Texas Grand Challenge, I will chair that initiative in 2021-22. My research interests include British Romantic poetry; historical fiction, science fiction, and the gothic novel; media studies, informatics, environmental humanities, and the social analysis of the built environment now coming to be known as infrastructure studies.

Within Good Systems, I am currently co-PI of the “Bad AI and Beyond” project, which examines how media representations shape public perceptions of artificial intelligence, and what innovative ways writers and filmmakers are finding to represent AI and its impact on society. I also serve as the Executive Team Liaison to the Public Interest Technology research focus area, and have organized cross-disciplinary speculative fiction conversations, as well as a study group of graduate students from across the University funded by Good Systems to work on research projects concerned with Covid-19.

Education

Ph.D. The University of Chicago, 2001

M.A. The University of Chicago, 1994

B.A. Columbia University, 1991

Projects

In the Spring of 2021, I will be on leave from teaching to write up findings from my various Good Systems projects, and to work on my book in progress, Gothic Care: Walter Scott and the Stewardship of Antiquarian Romance. Analyzing Scott’s pathbreaking historical fictions, this study proposes a new model for understanding his achievement: a model in which authorship and kingship ultimately matter less for his work than does an ethos of stewardship, remediating literature and life alike.

In my first book, Written on the Water: British Romanticism and the Maritime Empire of Culture (https://www.upress.virginia.edu/title/3952), I argue that British poet-critics like William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Lord Byron, and, later, Matthew Arnold developed what would become the idea of modern culture by modeling that idea on Britain’s imperial command of the sea. I has also published various articles and book chapters on these authors, as well as on Scott and on the gothic novelist Ann Radcliffe.

Before returning to academia to take a Ph.D., I worked as a journalist and book reviewer, as well as in museums and libraries. These experiences left me something of a generalist, and I maintain broad interests in literature and art, in film and media studies, and in politics, interests I explore in my newsletter.

Memberships

Modern Language Association; North American Society for the Study of Romanticism.

Samuel Baker

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