Dr. Gregory Baker is Associate Professor of English and Director of Irish Studies at Catholic University. He joined the faculty in 2013. Dr. Baker specializes in modern Irish and British literature, and he publishes in the fields of classical reception and comparative modernism. He is especially interested in documenting the prominent 'afterlives' of Greek and Roman antiquity within the literary avant-garde of the twentieth century.
His recent book, Classics and Celtic Literary Modernism: Yeats, Joyce, MacDiarmid and Jones (Cambridge University Press, 2022), examines the work of W. B. Yeats, James Joyce, David Jones and Hugh MacDiarmid to show how new forms of modernist literary expression emerged as the evolution of classical education, the insurgent power of cultural nationalisms and the desire for transformative modes of artistic invention converged across Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Writers on the 'Celtic fringe' sometimes confronted, and sometimes consciously advanced, he argues, crudely ideological manipulations of the inherited past. Yet even as they did so, the eccentric ways they used classics helped disrupt common literary conventions to animate new and strange stylizations of English—new forms of the vernacular that expanded the range of Anglophone literature in the twentieth century. In addition to this book, other recent publications include work on the Scottish nationalist, classicist and translator, Douglas Young, as well as the annotated bibliography for volume 5 of The Oxford History of Classical Reception in English Literature.
Dr. Baker's current book project, Antiquity and the Literatures of Devolution, explores the key roles played by adaptations, translations and allusions to classical antiquity in postwar Irish, African, Caribbean and Antipodean literatures. It stresses the different institutional and artistic receptions given to classical learning as various forms of 'literary devolution' took hold during the twentieth century—a time of great social and political change due in part to the vast decolonization of the British imperial state. As imperial models of classical education receded, prominent writers from across the emerging Commonwealth, and other former areas of empire, re-envisioned the Greek and the Roman, provoking new developments in both poetic style and political experiment.
Dr. Baker directs the interdisciplinary undergraduate program in Irish Studies while teaching a regular rotation of courses in twentieth-century Irish and British literature. In semesters past, he has taught classes on the history of drama and of the novel, on the work of Geoffrey Hill and of Seamus Heaney, on the poetry of world war, and on the major writings of W. B. Yeats, T. S. Eliot, Ezra Pound and James Joyce.
Dr. Baker earned his Ph.D. in Comparative Literature at Brown University. His undergraduate degree was in Classical Languages and Literatures at the University of Chicago.