Professor of French and Department Chair

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.
 
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 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 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.

Proust, Music, and Meaning (2017) articulates how notions of "modern" listening and absolute music inform the creation of literary meaning in Proust and allow us to measure the distance between what the novel says and what it does. 

His most recent book, Poetry’s Knowing Ignorance (2019), examines the role of productive ignorance in defining poetry and its relation to subjectivity and community in nineteenth and twentieth-century French writings on poetry.

He is currently at work on a book on the esthetic, ethical, and political dimensions of modern pessimism.

 

Research and/or Creative Works


Publications

BOOKS

Poetry's Knowing Ignorance. New York: Bloomsbury, 2019.

Proust, Music, and Meaning: Theories and Practices of Listening in the Recherche. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017.
 
The Fall Out of Redemption: Writing and Thinking Beyond Salvation in Baudelaire, Cioran, Fondane, Agamben, and Nancy.  New York: Bloomsbury, 2015. Paperback edition 2016.
 
Poets as Readers in Nineteenth-Century France: Critical Reflections, co-edited volume with Adrianna M. Paliyenko and Catherine Witt.  London: Institute of Modern Languages Research, 2015.
 
Thinking Poetry: Philosophical Approaches to Nineteenth-Century French Poetry, edited volume.  New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013. 
 
Crusoes and Other Castaways in Modern French Literature: Solitary Adventures. Newark: University of Delaware Press, 2012. Paperback edition 2014.
 
French Symbolist Poetry and the Idea of Music. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2006.
 
EDITED SPECIAL ISSUE
 
The Cultural Currency of Nineteenth-Century French Poetry, a special double issue of Romance Studies (26:3-4, July/November 2008) co-edited and prefaced with Adrianna M. Paliyenko 
 
REFEREED ARTICLES AND BOOK CHAPTERS
 
"On Metaphysics and the Political: a Polemics of Reading Baudelaire in the 1930s," forthcoming in Nottingham French Studies (2019).
 
“Baudelaire Modern and Antimodern: Le Spleen de Paris in an Interdisciplinary Course on Modernity,” in Cheryl Krueger, ed., Approaches to Teaching Le Spleen de Paris, (New York: The Modern Language Association of America, 2017), 88-95.
 
“Entre Rimbaud et Bataille: Le salut, le savoir et  l’impossible renoncement à la poésie dans Une saison en enfer,” in Parade sauvage 27 (2016), 131-44.
 
“Modern Listening: Proust, Beethoven, and the Music of Silence,” in Partial Answers 14:2 (June 2016), 237-53.
 
“Intonation, Interpretation, and Meaning in Mallarmé’s ‘Petit Air II,’” in Thinking Verse 5 (2015): 149-171.
 
“On Ernest Seillière, Benjamin Fondane, ‘Naturist Mysticism’, and the Dangers of Baudelaire,” in Comparative Critical Studies 12:3 (2015), 303-18.
 
“Gautier on Baudelaire: Lessons from Hawthorne” in Poets as Readers in Nineteenth-Century France: Critical Reflections (London: Institute of Modern Languages Research, 2015), 113-30.
 
“Saving Creation: Agamben and Baudelaire, the Poet and the Critic,” in L’Esprit Créateur 54:3 (Fall 2014), 53-65.
 
“Résonance, accord, voyage : la politique du poétique chez Baudelaire et Rancière,” in Revue des Sciences Humaines 314 (Avril-juin 2014), 73-86.
 
“Falling into Salvation in Cioran” in Studies in Twentieth and Twenty First-Century Literature 38:1 (2014), 1-22.
 
“Performing the Ineffable: Poem, Gesture, and Performance in Debussy’s Trois poèmes de Stéphane Mallarmé,” in Dix-Neuf 17:1 (April 2013), 90-103. 
 
“Baudelaire with Badiou: Event and Subjectivity in ‘L’Héautontimorouménos,’” in Thinking Poetry: Philosophical Approaches to Nineteenth-Century French Poetry (NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013) 185-201.
 
“On Artistic Form and the Spiritual: Mallarmé, Schönberg, and Kandinksy on Poetry, Mystery, and Music,” in Thinking Verse 2 (2012), 68-87.
 
“Listening to Silence in Pascal Quignard’s Vie secrète,” in L’Esprit Créateur 52: 1 (Spring 2012), 83-95. 
 
“The Strange Surprising Adventures of Reading Balzac’s Louis Lambert,” in French Studies LXVI: 3 (July 2012), 316-330.
 
“Les temps de l’antimodernité : Baudelaire avec Cioran,” in Christophe Ippolito, ed., Résistances à la modernité (Paris: L’Harmattan, 2010), 99-116.
 
“Vivre le désappointement : une lecture cioranienne de l’épisode de la Berma,” forthcoming in Vincent Ferré and Karen Hadded-Wotling, eds.,  Proust : Dialogues critiques (Presses Universitaires de Rennes).
 
“Cross-referencing Bowie: Layers and Networks in Mallarmé and Proust” in Gill Rye and Naomi Segal, eds., ‘When familiar meanings dissolve…’: Essays in Memory of Malcolm Bowie (1943-2007) (Oxford: Peter Lang, 2011), 135-50.  
 
“The Place of Poetry: Nature, Nostalgia, and Modernity in Jaccottet’s Poetics,” in Modern Language Review 105: 3 (July 2010), 679-694.
 
“Epistémologie et esthétique de la déception chez Proust et Cioran,” in Revue Romane 45: 1 (2010), 117-130.
 
“Erasing Collaboration: The Case of André Gill and Louis de Gramont” in Seth Whidden, ed., Models of Collaboration in Nineteenth-Century French Literature (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2009), 91-105.
 
“Reading Echoes in Baudelaire: Between Philosophic and Genetic Approaches” in Romance Studies 26: 4 (November 2008), 286-296.
 
“Digesting Les Fleurs du Mal: Imaginative Spaces and Liquid Modernity in Baudelaire” in Nineteenth-Century French Studies 37: 1-2 (Fall-Winter 2008-2009), 30-41.
 
“La musique du désir et de la pureté: Gide face à Chopin” in Bulletin des Amis d’André Gide 157 (January 2008), 19-32.
 
“The Decadent Writer as Collector and Flâneur: On Intertextual Networks and Literary Spaces in Huysmans” in French Forum 32: 3 (Fall 2007), 65-80.
 
“Mallarmé et Flaubert aux frontières de la fiction” in Lingua Romana 6: 1 (Fall 2007), n.p.
 
“Reigniting Vigny: Fire, Transformation, and Modernity in His Lyric Poetry” in Symposium 61: 2 (Summer 2007), 99-116.
 
“On Naturalist Vice: The Strange Case of Charlot s’amuse” in Excavatio 21: 1-2 (2006), 36-47.
 
“‘Sowing some roses on the thorns of life’: Desire, Nature, Interpretation, and Judgment in Sade and Baudelaire” in Romance Studies 24: 1 (March 2006), 15-27.
 
“The Lyric of Narrative: Exile, Poetry, and Story in Saint-John Perse and Elizabeth Bishop” in Orbis Litterarum 60: 5 (2005), 344-356.
 
“Between Stéphane Mallarmé and René Ghil: The Impossible Desire for Poetry” in French Forum 29: 3 (Fall 2004), 27-41. 
 
“Medieval Monsters: Creating Past and Present in Zola and Huysmans,” in Excavatio 19: 1-2 (2004), 236-250.
 
“Uprooting the Lyric: Baudelaire in Wagner’s Forests” in Nineteenth-Century French Studies 32: 3-4 (Spring-Summer 2004), 223-237.
 
“Music, Desire, and Death in The Magic Mountain” in Michael J. Meyer, ed., Music and Literature, (Amsterdam: Rodopi Press, 2002), 9-21.
 
ENCYCLOPEDIA ARTICLE
 
“Emil Cioran” in The Literary Encyclopedia (on-line publication)
 

 

Professor Joseph Acquisto

Areas of Expertise and/or Research

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

Education

  • Ph.D., Department of French (2003), Yale University

Contact

Phone:
  • (802) 656-4845
  • (802) 656-3196
Office Location:

517 Waterman

Office Hours:

Spring 2020: MWF 11:00-12:15

Courses Taught

  • FREN 051: Intermediate Reading and Conversation I
  • FREN 101: The Writing Workshop
  • FREN 107: Focus on Oral Expression
  • FREN 141: French Literature in Context I
  • FREN 142: French Literature in Context II
  • FREN 265: Romanticism and Symbolism
  • FREN 269: La Belle Epoque
  • FREN 270: Lyric Poetry: Harmony and Crisis
  • FREN 295: Advanced Special Topics: Baudelaire and Flaubert
  • HCOL 085: First Year Seminar: The Pursuit of Knowledge
  • HCOL 086: First Year Seminar: D2: Thinking and Acting
  • HCOL 086: First Year Seminar: Universities and Vocation
  • WLIT 095: Special Topics: The Birth and Death of Modernity
  • WLIT 111: French Literature in Translation: Paris in Modern French Literature