Robert Kaufman
Comparative Literature

rob-kaufmanduoB.A., English, UC Berkeley, 1979

J.D., Boalt Hall School of Law, UC Berkeley, 1982

Ph.D., English, UC Berkeley, 1995

After practicing labor and employment-discrimination law for several years, Robert Kaufman returned to UC Berkeley to take a Ph.D. in English. He then joined the English Department faculty at McGill University in Montréal, moving soon thereafter to Stanford University, where he was assistant professor of English and affiliated assistant professor of German Studies and of Modern Thought and Literature. Kaufman has been a Stanford Humanities Center Fellow, as well as a John Philip Coghlan Research Fellow, and has also spent terms teaching, as invited visiting assistant professor, in the University of Chicago’s English Department and UC Berkeley’s Comparative Literature Department. He joined Berkeley’s Comparative Literature faculty in July, 2007; at Berkeley he has been both a Hellman Family and Institute of International Studies Fellow. He is also Co-Director of UC Berkeley’s Program in Critical Theory.

Kaufman’s teaching and research emphasize several interrelated areas: 20th-21st-century American poetry and its dialogues with modern Latin American, German, French, and British poetry; romantic and 19th-century poetry and poetics; philosophical aesthetics, literary theory, and the history of criticism (esp. since Kant and romanticism); and Frankfurt School Critical Theory and the arts (poetry and the other literary genres; music; cinema; painting, etc.).

Professor Kaufman’s interests in experimental poetry and poetics since Romanticism, and in aesthetic, cultural, and literary theory, have led him to pursue three interrelated research projects. The first study is  Negative Romanticism: Adornian Aesthetics in Keats, Shelley, and Modern Poetry (forthcoming from Cornell University Press); the book examines the relationships between “second-generation” British Romanticism and modern attempts (from Keats, Shelley, and Kant, to Brecht, Vallejo, Zukofsky, and the Frankfurt School, to recent lyric poetry and critical theory) to develop a progressive, “critical” poetry, poetics, and aesthetics. Two related book projects are titled Why Poetry Should Matter—to the Left; and Modernism after Postmodernism? Robert Duncan and the Future-Present of American Poetry.

Office: 4407 Dwinelle

Professor Kaufman’s essays and articles include:

  • “Walter Benjamin and Theodor W. Adorno on Modern Poetry’s Critical Potential”; “The Aura Debate”; Entries/Articles in Encyclopedia of Aesthetics, ed. Michael Kelly (forthcoming from Oxford University Press)
  • “Lyric’s Barbarism in the Americas, Lately,”  in Adorno Now, ed. Tania Roy (forthcoming)
  • “Frankfurt School,” Entry/Article [discussing the Frankfurt School and Modern Poetry/Poetics, and incorporating the subject-entry "Commodity, Poetry as/against”] in the Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics, 4th ed. (Princeton UP, 2012), 518-522
  • “Singin’ in the Marxist Rain,” in The Aesthetics of the Total Artwork: On Borders and Fragments, eds. Anke Finger and Danielle Follett (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2011), 327-345
  • “Poetry After `Poetry After Auschwitz, ‘ ”  in  Art and Aesthetics after Adorno [Townsend Papers in the Humanities, No.3], ed. Anthony J. Cascardi (Berkeley: Townsend Humanities Center/University of California Press, 2010), 116-181.
  • Afterword: Vicente Huidobro’s Futurity Is Now; ¿Por qué?” in Huidobro’s Futurity: Twenty-First Century Approaches, vol. 6 of  Hispanic Issues On Line, eds.Luis Correa-Díaz and Scott Weintraub (Spring 2010): 248-260
  • “What’s at Stake? Kantian Aesthetics, Romantic & Modern Poetics, Sociopolitical Commitment,” in A Concise Companion to the Romantic Age, ed. Jon Klancher (Wiley-Blackwell, 2009), 257-282
  • AfterNach: Life’s Posthumous Life in Later-Modernist American Poetry,” in The Meaning of `Life’ in Romantic Poetry and Poetics, ed. Ross Wilson (Routledge, 2009), 164-190
  • “Lyric Commodity Critique, Benjamin Adorno Marx, Baudelaire Baudelaire Baudelaire,” PMLA 123:1 (January, 2008): 207-215
  • “Poetry’s Ethics? Theodor W. Adorno and Robert Duncan on Aesthetic Illusion and Sociopolitical Delusion,” New German Critique 97 (Winter 2006):73-118
  • “Everybody Hates Kant: Blakean Formalism and the Symmetries of Laura Moriarty,” in Reading for Form, eds. Susan J. Wolfson and Marshall Brown (University of Washington Press, 2006), 203-230
  • “Lyric’s Expression: Musicality, Conceptuality, Critical Agency,” in Adorno and Literature, eds. David Cunningham and Nigel Mapp (Continuum, 2006), 99-116 (an earlier, briefer version of this essay appeared in Cultural Critique 60 [Spring 2005]: 197-216)
  • “Lyric’s Constellation, Poetry’s Radical Privilege,” Modernist Cultures 1:2 (Winter 2005): 209-234,
  • “Adorno’s Social Lyric, and Literary Criticism Today: Poetics, Aesthetics, Modernity,” in The Cambridge Companion to Adorno, ed. Tom Huhn (Cambridge University Press, 2004), 354-375
  • “Difficulty in Modern Poetry and Aesthetics,” in Just Being Difficult: Academic Writing in the Public Arena, eds. Jonathan Culler and Kevin Lamb (Stanford University Press, 2003), 139-156
  • “Sociopolitical (i.e., Romantic) Difficulty in Modern Poetry and Aesthetics,” Romantic Circles Praxis Series (June 2003), http://www.rc.umd.edu/praxis/poetics/kaufman/kaufman.html
  • “What Is Construction, What’s The Aesthetic, What Was Adorno Doing?” in Aesthetic Subjects, eds. Pamela Matthews and David McWhirter (University of Minnesota Press, 2003), 366-396
  • “Aura, Still,” October 99 (Winter 2002): 45-80, reprinted in Walter Benjamin and Art, ed. Andrew Benjamin, (Continuum Press, 2005), 121-147
  • “Brecht’s Autonomous Art, or More Late Modernism!” in Das Brecht-Jahrbuch/The Brecht Yearbook 26 (Fall 2001): 191-211
  • “Intervention and Commitment Forever! Shelley in 1819, Shelley in Brecht, Shelley in Adorno, Shelley in Benjamin,” Romantic Circles Praxis Series (May 2001), http://www.rc.umd.edu/praxis/interventionist/kaufman/kaufman.html
  • “The Work of Romanticism in the Age of Mechanical Postmodernism,” European Romantic Review 12.2 (Spring 2001): 237-245
  • “Negatively Capable Dialectics: Keats, Vendler, Adorno, and the Theory of the Avant-Garde,” Critical Inquiry 27:2 (Winter 2001): 354-384
  • “Red Kant, or The Persistence of the Third Critique in Adorno and Jameson,” Critical Inquiry 26:4 (Summer 2000): 682-724
  • “A Future for Modernism: Barbara Guest’s Recent Poetry,” American Poetry Review 29:4 (July/August 2000): 11-16
  • “The Madness of George III, by Mary Wollstonecraft,” Studies in Romanticism 37:1 (Spring 1998): 17-25
  • “The Sublime as Super-Genre of the Modern, or, Hamlet in Revolution: Caleb Williams and His Problems,” Studies in Romanticism 36:4 (Winter 1997): 541-574
  • “Legislators of the Post-Everything World: Shelley’s Defence of Adorno,” English Literary History 63:3 (Fall 1996): 707-733.