Professor of German Studies and Comparative Literature:
Departments of German Studies & Comparative Literature
Phone: +1 401 863 2650
Gerhard Richter's research focuses on aesthetic theory and European critical thought since Kant; modern German literature and culture (including photography); the Frankfurt School (especially Walter Benjamin and Theodor W. Adorno); the intersections of literary writing and philosophy (especially Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Derrida); contemporary French thought; and questions of translation.
Gerhard Richter, who holds degrees in German and Comparative Literature, earned his Ph.D. at Princeton University in 1996. Before coming to Brown in 2011 as Chair of the German Department and as Professor of German Studies and Comparative Literature, he taught at the University of California, Davis, where he served as Director of the Graduate Program in Critical Theory, and at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Richter is the author of four books to date: Walter Benjamin and the Corpus of Autobiography (Wayne State UP, 2000; 2nd edition, 2002); Ästhetik des Ereignisses. Sprache-Geschichte-Medium (Fink, 2005); Thought-Images: Frankfurt School Writers' Reflections from Damaged Life (Stanford UP, 2007); and Afterness: Figures of Following in Modern Thought and Aesthetics (Columbia UP, 2011).
Professor Richter publishes in the general areas of European critical thought and modern German literature and culture.
In addition to his four single-authored books, Professor Richter has published five edited volumes, including Benjamin's Ghosts: Interventions in Contemporary Literary and Cultural Theory (Stanford UP, 2002); Literary Paternity, Literary Friendship (U of North Carolina Press, 2002); Sound Figures of Modernity: German Music and Philosophy (U of Wisconsin Press, 2002, co-ed. with Jost Hermand); Language without Soil: Adorno and Late Philosophical Modernity (Fordham UP, 2010); and Jacques Derrida, Copy, Archive, Signature: A Conversation on Photography (Stanford UP, 2010).
He also has published some 60 articles and book chapters in venues such as MLN, New German Critique, differences, Weimarer Beiträge, The Cambridge Companion to Walter Benjamin, The German Quarterly, Telos, Grey Room, Journal of Visual Culture, CR: The New Centennial Review, qui parle, German Politics and Society, Symploke, Angelaki: Journal of the Theoretical Humanities, and Culture, Theory, and Critique.
Some of Professor Richter's recent essays (since 2010) include "Die Seminare über Schiller und Herder. Von der Freiheit zur Sprache," Heidegger-Handbuch. Leben-Werk-Wirkung, 2nd ed. (Metzler, in press); "Critique and the Thing: Benjamin and Heidegger," The Spring 2012 Rodig Lecture, Rutgers German Studies Occasional Papers 13 (2012); "Gespräch über Bäume," Zeitschrift für kritische Theorie 33-34 (2012); "Walter Benjamin (1892-1940) and Theodor W. Adorno (1903-1969)," Aesthetics: The Key Thinkers, ed. Alessandro Giovanelli (Continuum, 2012); "Die Erbschaft der Konstellation. Adorno und Hegel," MLN 126: 3 (2011); "Benjamin's Blotting Paper: Writing and Erasing a Theological Figure of Thought," Symposium 65: 1 (2011); "Love as Resistance: A Miniature after Adorno," Culture Industry Today , ed. Fabio Akcelrud Durão (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2010); "Can Anything Be Rescued by Defending It? Benjamin with Adorno," differences 31: 3 (2010), also in Portuguese translation as "Pode algo ser salvo ao ser defendido? Benjamin com Adorno," trans. Tauan Tinti, Remate de Males: Revista de Teoria e História Literária 30: 1 (2010); "Der Schatz der Bilder. Bild und Erinnerung bei Heidegger," Weimarer Beiträge 56: 3 (2010); "The Work of Art and Its Formal and Genealogical Determinations: Benjamin's 'Cool Place' between Kant and Nietzsche," Grey Room 39 (2010); "Between Translation and Invention: The Photograph in Deconstruction," Introduction to Jacques Derrida, Copy, Archive, Signature: A Conversation on Photography (Stanford, 2010); "Acts of Memory and Mourning: Derrida and the Fictions of Anteriority," Memory: Histories, Theories, Debates, ed. Susannah Radstone and Bill Schwarz (Fordham, 2010); "Introduction," Language without Soil: Adorno and Late Philosophical Modernity (Fordham, 2010).
Richter recently has delivered invited lectures, keynote addresses, and guest seminars on his research at institutions such as Cornell, UC Berkeley, Rutgers, NYU, Penn, Yale, Princeton, University of Georgia, Johns Hopkins, University of Minnesota, SUNY Buffalo, Syracuse, Clark, UCLA, Northwestern, UC Irvine, Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena (Germany), Universität Bonn (Germany), Universität Lüneburg (Germany), Universität Düsseldorf (Germany), Andrássy University (Budapest), Universidade Estadual de Campinas (Brazil), and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
Ph.D., Princeton University
Among Professor Richter's honors and awards are an Alexander von Humboldt Research Fellowship; a DAAD Faculty Research Grant; a Brown in Translation Award for the translation of his book Thought-Images into Portuguese; major conference grants from the DAAD and the Goethe Institute; an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Grant to co-direct an Interdisciplinary Humanities Workshop; the H.I. Romnes Award for Excellence in Research (University of Wisconsin); the William F. Vilas Research Award (University of Wisconsin); a Hilldale Award for Collaborative Research (University of Wisconsin); a Lilly Endowment Excellence in Teaching Award; as well as a Course Development Grant in Recognition of Teaching Excellence.
Most recently, he was invited to present the 2012 Rodig Lecture and Seminar at Rutgers University. He also has served as a Distinguished Visiting Scholar at the Public Culture Summer Graduate Institute at Northwestern University; a Distinguished Lecturer at the Syracuse Humanities Center and School of Architecture; a Visiting Lecturer at an NEH Summer Seminar for College Teachers on "Walter Benjamin's Later Writings" at UC Irvine; a DAAD Faculty Fellow and Visiting Scholar at the Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf; an Alexander von Humboldt Fellow at the Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn; a Visiting Scholar at the Universität zu Köln; and as a Visiting Scholar at the Zentrum für Literatur- und Kulturforschung, Berlin.
In addition, Professor Richter has served on the Executive Committee of the International Walter Benjamin Society, and he chairs the Executive Committee of the MLA's Division on Philosophical Approaches to Literature. He also serves on the editorial boards of academic journals, including Benjamin-Studien.
(Past and current)
American Association of University Professors
American Association of Teachers of German
American Comparative Literature Association
German Studies Association
International Association for Philosophy and Literature
International Comparative Literature Association
International Walter Benjamin Society (Berlin)
Modern Language Association of America
Society for Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy
Professor Richter's undergraduate courses have included, among others, "Marx, Nietzsche, Freud," "The Writing of the Disaster: Representations of the Holocaust in Germany and the US," "Literature and Photography," "German Lyric Poetry from Goethe to Celan," "What Is Enlightenment? Readings in German Intellectual History," and "On Love - Über die Liebe." Recent graduate seminars include "Walter Benjamin: Aesthetics, Media, Modernity," "Heidegger and Lyric Poetry," "What Is Art? Aesthetic Theory from Kant to Adorno," "Of Friends and Enemies," "Frankfurt School Critical Theory," "Light-Writing: Literature - Photography - Philosophy," "Inheriting Hegel," and "EuropeThe Very Idea."