Skip to main content

Secondary navigation:

Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences

Robert Kern

enlgish department

Robert Kern

Associate Professor

B.A., City College of New York                          
M.A., Harvard University
Ph.D., Harvard University

Stokes Hall S481
Boston College
Chestnut Hill, MA 02467

Phone: 617-552-3704
Fax: 617-552-4220

Academic Profile

Teaches courses on 19th and 20th century American poetry, American nature writing and Ecocriticism, and the Whitman tradition, among others. His articles and reviews, mostly on modern American poetry, have appeared in a wide range of journals, and his current project is an ecocritical study of the tensions between anthropocentrism and ecocentrism in a variety of American literary texts.

Publications (selected)


  • Orientalism, Modernism, and the American Poem (Cambridge and NewYork: Cambridge University Press, 1996); re-issued in paperback, 2009.


  • "Toward a New Nature Poetry," The Centennial Review 19 (1975), 198-216.
  •  "Williams, Brautigan, and the Poetics of Primitivism," Chicago Review 27
      (1975), 47-57.
  • "Recipes, Catalogues, Open Form Poetics: Gary Snyder's Archetypal Voice," Contemporary Literature 18 (1977), 173-197.
  • "Clearing the Ground: Gary Snyder and the Modernist Imperative,"Criticism 19 (1977), 158-177.
  • "Composition as Recognition: Robert Creeley and Postmodern Poetics," 
    Boundary 2 6 (1978), 211-230.
  • "Bacon, Descartes, and the Background of Method," The Centennial Review 22 (1978), 231-254.
  • "Keats and the Problem of Romance," Philological Quarterly 58 (1979), 171-191.
  • "Silence in Prosody: Gary Snyder and the Poem as Silent Form," The Ohio Review 26 (1981), 34-52.
  • "Form and Ethos in Postmodern Poetry, " New England Review and Bread Loaf Quarterly 6 (1983), 23-34.
  • "Frost and Modernism," American Literature 60 (1988), 1-16.
  • “Mountains and Rivers Are Us:  Gary Snyder and the Nature of the Nature of Nature,” College Literature 27 (2000), 119-38.
  • “Ecocriticism: What is it Good For?” ISLE (Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment) 7 (2000), 9-32.
  • “Fabricating Ecocentric Discourse in the American Poem (and Elsewhere),” New Literary History 37 (2006), 425-445.
  • “Ecocriticism: What is it Good For?”— re-published (translated into Hungarian) in Helikon (2007, 3), 362-387—a Hungarian quarterly of the Institute of Literary Studies at the Hungarian Academy of Science. This issue of Helikon introduces the field of ecocriticism in Hungary and Eastern Europe.
  • “Birds of a Feather: Emily Dickinson, Alberto Manguel, and the Nature Poet’s Dilemma,” ISLE (Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment) 16.2 (Spring 2009),

Articles reprinted in books:

  • "Clearing the Ground: Gary Snyder and the Modernist Imperative,"The Beats: Essays in Criticism, ed. Lee Bartlett (Jefferson, NC London: McFarland, 1981).
  • "Keats and the Problem of Romance," Critical Essays on John Keats, ed. Hermione de Almeida (Boston: G.K. Hall, 1990).
  • "Silence in Prosody: Gary Snyder and the Poem as Silent Form," 
     Critical Essays on Gary Snyder, ed. Patrick D. Murphy (Boston: G.K. Hall, 1991).
  • "Frost and Modernism," On Frost: The Best from American Literature,
     ed. Edwin H. Cady & Louis J. Budd (Durham: Duke University Press, 1991).
  • “Mountains and Rivers Are Us:  Gary Snyder and the Nature of the Nature of Nature,” The Beat Generation: Critical Essays, ed. Kostas Myrsiades (New York: Peter Lang, 2002).
  • “Ecocriticism: What is it Good For?” The ISLE Reader: Ecocriticism,
    , ed. Michael Branch and Scott Slovic (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2003).

Reviews and Review-Essays:

  • The Situation of Poetry by Robert Pinsky; Naked Angels: The Lives and Literature of the Beat Generation by John Tytell; Marianne Moore: Poet of Affection by Pamela White Hadas, Criticism 20 (1978), 201-205.
  • Frank O'Hara: Poet Among Painters by Marjorie Perloff, English Language Notes 17 (1979), 155-158.
  • Enlarging the Temple: New Directions in American Poetry During the 1960s by Charles Altieri, Criticism 22 (1980), 287-293.
  • "Lyric Rhetoric" (Review-Essay on The Rhetoric of the Contemporary Lyric by Jonathan Holden and In the Arresting Eye: The Rhetoric of Imagism by John Gage), Contemporary Literature 23 (1982), 368-376.
  • "Lyric Introspection and the Crisis in Verse" (Review-Essay on Poet's Prose: The Crisis in American Verse by Stephen Fredman andIntrospection and Contemporary Poetry by Alan Williamson),Contemporary Literature 26 (1985), 221-231.
  • The Excesses of God: Robinson Jeffers as a Religious Figure by William Everson, American Literature 61 (1989), 323-325.
  • Frost and the Book of Nature by George Bagby, American Literature 66 (1994), 852-853.
  • Translation and the Languages of Modernism: Gender, Politics, Language by Steven G. Yao, Modern Philology 101 (2004), 654-657.
  • Ezra Pound and China, ed., Zhaoming Qian, Modernism/Modernity 12 (2005), 194-196.
  • Through Other Continents: American Literature Across Deep Time by Wai Chee Dimock, forthcoming in Modern Philology 107.2 (2009).