University of Vermont

The College of Arts and Sciences

Department of Romance Languages and Linguistics

Faculty - Joseph Acquisto


Joseph Acquisto

Professor of French

Chair, Department of Romance Languages & Linguistics

  • Ph.D. Yale University
  • C.V.
Area of expertise

Nineteenth and twentieth-century poetry and the novel; relations between music and literature; modernity and modernism; Baudelaire; Mallarmé; Proust; Cioran

Contact Information
Email: Joseph Acquisto
Office: 517 Waterman

Office Hours: By appointment

Joseph Acquisto joined the department in 2003 after receiving the Ph.D. from Yale University. He specializes in nineteenth and twentieth-century French literature, with particular emphasis on lyric poetry and the novel. His research interests include the relations between music and literature, the notion of modernity in intellectual history and the arts, and philosophical approaches to poetry.

He is the author of articles on Baudelaire, Mallarmé, Gide, Proust, Cioran, Huysmans, Vigny, and Jaccottet, among others, and co-editor of a double issue of Romance Studies entitled The Cultural Currency of Nineteenth-Century French Poetry. His first book, French Symbolist Poetry and the Idea of Music (Ashgate, 2006), argues that music, as theorized rather than performed or heard, serves as a privileged mobile space of poetic creation and dialogue for poets from 1850-1930. The second, Crusoes and Other Castaways in Modern French Literature: Solitary Adventures (University of Delaware Press, 2012), demonstrates how the Robinson Crusoe myth becomes a vehicle for exploration of larger questions about the reception of texts, modes of reading, and the relationship between popular and serious literary traditions.  An edited volume entitled Thinking Poetry: Philosophical Approaches to Nineteenth-Century Poetry (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013) explores relations between contemporary continental philosophy and literature. His most recent book, The Fall Out of Redemption: Writing and Thinking Beyond Salvation in Baudelaire, Cioran, Fondane, Agamben, and Nancy (Bloomsbury, 2015), claims that Baudelaire is a key instigator of a modern tradition of writing that attempts to relinquish the logic of redemption and to think beyond any theological, esthetic, or political salvation.  He is currently working on a book on structures of listening in Proust.

His teaching focuses on modern French literature and intermediate and advanced language courses. He is core faculty in the Honors College, teaching the interdisciplinary first-year seminar, The Pursuit of Knowledge: Universities, Disciplines, Engagement. He has taught interdisciplinary sophomore seminars and graduate courses on modernity and modernism in philosophy, critical theory, and the arts. He also serves as faculty director of the Global Village Residential Learning Community.