Joseph Albernaz

Joseph Albernaz

Research Interests


B.A., University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley (2018)

Joseph Albernaz specializes in the literature, especially poetry, of the Romantic period, with a particular interest in the legacies of Romanticism across a number of theoretical and critical domains. His first book, Common Measures: Romanticism and the Groundlessness of Community (forthcoming from Stanford University Press, 2024), reads writers from Geneva to Jamaica to trace new formations of community, ecology, and the everyday in Romantic literature and its later inheritors. Common Measures argues that amidst the social, political, and environmental upheaval of the decades around 1800, a time of revolution and enclosure, Romantic writers detect and amplify frequencies of “groundless community”—that is, forms of everyday sharing, minor ecologies, and communal life unauthorized by any transcendent guarantee or shared essence. The book outlines a new way of understanding Romanticism’s ambivalent relation to a consolidating modernity, while showing how Romantic literature generates modes of thinking and feeling in common that also help set the terms for many important twentieth-century and contemporary theoretical conversations around community.

Broadly speaking, his recent work seeks to place close and comparative literary analysis in convergent dialogue with philosophical inquiry and with historical trajectories of insurgency and revolt. The pursuit of Romanticism’s fecundity has also led into other explorations of the period’s tremors and legacies, especially in revolutionary history and traditions of political radicalism: recent articles trace the genealogies of the word “communism” to the early writings of Friedrich Hölderlin and the tactic of the general strike back to slave revolt in the Caribbean.

He is currently working on a second book, tentatively entitled The Time Torn Remnant of the Holiday, on calendars, festivals, work, temporality, and rebellion; early questions are also taking shape around another book project examining the political theology of theodicy in Romanticism and contemporary theory, especially in relation to notions of freedom and slavery. In addition to his primary fields, his research actively engages continental philosophy, the history and present of literary and critical theory, Black Studies, political theology, the environmental humanities, and contemporary poetry.

He was selected as the Fall 2023 Harold Stirling Vanderbilt lecturer at Vanderbilt University.

Other pieces out or forthcoming include work on Keats and Hegel, Jean-Luc Nancy, Donna Haraway, John Clare, Hölderlin and Günderrode, the ecology of marronage in Jamaican forests, photography, Hans Blumenberg, the history of the commons and resistance to enclosure, Mary Shelley’s pandemic novel The Last Man, contemporary poetry, and more. Certain publications are available to read here:

Recent Publications:

“The Voice of Complaint: Race, Face, and Vocalization in Romantic Complaint Lyric.” The Cambridge Companion to Romanticism and Race, ed. Manu Chander. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (forthcoming 2024).

“‘Oracles of Woods’: Ecologies of Abandonment.” Studies in Romanticism 62.1 (Spring 2023): 37-46.

“Abolition, Black Ultraradicalism, and the Generation of the General Strike.” Critical Times 5.3 (2022): 538–569.

“Indices of Departure.” Qui Parle 31.2 (2022): 373–385.

“The Missing Word of History: Hölderlin and ‘Communism.’” Germanic Review 97.1 (2022): 7-29.

“The Displaced Predicament: Allegory, Irony, and Remystification.” Studies in Romanticism 61.1 (Spring 2022): 23-33.

“The Commons: Ruin and Romance.” Social Research 88.1 (Spring 2021): 115-150.

“Earth Unbounded: Division and Inseparability in Friedrich Hölderlin and Karoline von Günderrode.” in Nothing Absolute: German Idealism and the Question of Political TheologyEds. Kirill Chepurin and Alex Dubilet. New York: Fordham University Press, 2021. 124-143.

“Fragmentary Domesticity: Wordsworth’s Image of the Common.” New Literary History 51.3 (2020): 523–547.

(with Kirill Chepurin) “The Sovereignty of the World: Towards a Political Theology of Modernity (after Blumenberg).” in Interrogating Modernity: Debates with Hans Blumenberg. eds. Agata Bielek-Robson and Daniel Whistler. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2020. 83-107.  


Selected Publications