Joseph Jurt was born in Willisau (Switzerland). He studied Romance Languages and Literature and History at the University of Fribourg and at the Paris-Sorbonne University.
From 1981 to 2005, he was full professor of Romance Literature at the University of Freiburg i. Br. He co-founded the „Frankreich-Zentrum“ of the University of Freiburg, which he chaired between 1993 and 2000. He held guest professorships at the Haute Ecole en Sciences Sociales (Paris), at the Sorbonne Nouvelle, and at the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro. He held 2006 teaching assignments at the University of Teacher Education Central Switzerland (PHZ) in Lucerne, and taught at the Universities of Basel and St. Gallen.
From 1997 to 2000, he was a member of the Franco-German Cultural Council and of the Swiss Science and Technology Council (SSTC), of which he was vice president from 2000 to 2007. Since 2008, Joseph Jurt is a member of the advisory board of the project „Mesurer les performances de la recherche“ organized by the Rectors’ Conference of the Swiss Universities. His research interests include reception research, literature and politics, and sociology of literature.
His recent publications include: Das literarische Feld. Das Konzept Pierre Bourdieus in Theorie und Praxis (1995); Absolute Pierre Bourdieu (2003, 2007), (ed.); Unterwegs zur Moderne (2004), (ed.); Die Literatur und die Erinnerung an die Shoah (2005), (ed.); Champ littéraire et nation (2007); Grundwissen Philosophie. Bourdieu (2008)