Samuel Baker
Research Interests

Samuel Baker, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor in the Department of English at the University of Texas at Austin. He is a frequent participant in the British, Irish, and Empire Studies Program and an affiliate of the Center for European Studies, and often teaches Plan II Honors students. A Founding Member of the Executive Team for the Good Systems Ethical AI Texas Grand Challenge, Dr. Baker chaired that initiative in 2021-22. His research interests include British Romantic poetry; historical fiction, science fiction, and the gothic novel; media studies, informatics, causal inference, the environmental humanities, and the cultural analysis of the built environment now becoming known as infrastructure studies.

With Good Systems, Dr. Baker is currently a leader of the "Living and Working With Robots" team; previously he was co-PI of the “Bad AI and Beyond” project, which examines how media representations shape public perceptions of artificial intelligence, and innovative ways writers and filmmakers are depicting AI and its impact on society. He has also served as the Executive Team Liaison to the Public Interest Technology research focus area, and he has organized cross-disciplinary speculative fiction conversations, as well as a study group of graduate students funded by Good Systems for their work on research projects concerned with Covid-19.

Dr. Baker is currently writing up findings from his various Good Systems projects, and working on his book in progress, Gothic Care: Walter Scott and the Stewardship of Antiquarian Romance. Analyzing Scott’s pathbreaking historical fictions, this study proposes a new model for understanding his achievement: a model in which authorship and kingship ultimately matter less for his work than does an ethos of stewardship, remediating literature and life alike. 

In his first book, Written on the Water: British Romanticism and the Maritime Empire of Culture (, Dr. Baker argues that British poet-critics like William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Lord Byron, and, later, Matthew Arnold developed what would become the idea of modern culture by modeling that idea on Britain's imperial command of the sea. Dr. Baker has also published various articles and book chapters on these authors, on Scott, and on the gothic novelist Ann Radcliffe.

Before returning to academia to take his Ph.D., Professor Baker worked as a journalist and book reviewer, as well as in museums and libraries. These experiences left him something of a generalist, and he maintains broad interests in literature and art, in film and media studies, and in politics.

Affiliated Departments