Department News


Kristina Mendicino has been awarded a Faculty Fellowship at the Pembroke Center for Teaching and Research on Women for 2020-21. She will be participating in the Center's Research Seminar ("Narratives of Debt") led by Peter Szendy. 

Three new faculty publications have appeared since Summer 2020. Congratulations to Marc Redfield, Thomas Schestag, and Zachary Sng!


Marc Redfield, Shibboleth: Judges, Derrida, Celan
(New York: Fordham University Press, 2020)

Working from the Bible to contemporary art, Shibboleth surveys the linguistic performances behind the politics of border crossings and the policing of identities. In the context of an unending refugee crisis and a general displacement, monitoring and quarantining of populations within a global regime of technics, Paul Celan’s subtle yet fierce reorientation of shibboleth merits scrupulous reading. This book interprets the episode in Judges together with Celan’s poems and Jacques Derrida’s reading of them, as well as passages from William Faulkner’s Absalom! Absalom! and Doris Salcedo’s 2007 installation Shibboleth at the Tate Modern. Redfield pursues the track of shibboleth: a word to which no language can properly lay claim—a word that is both less and more than a word, that signifies both the epitome and the ruin of border control technology, and that thus, despite its violent role in the Biblical story, offers a locus of poetico-political affirmation.

Francis Ponge, Die Sonne/Le Soleil, ed. and trans. Thomas Schestag
(Berlin: Matthes & Seitz, 2020)

The French poet and essayist Francis Ponge (1899-1988) wrote in 1949 that the sun is “the formal and indispensable condition of (our) existence,” of life and death (on earth). He believed, however, that the word did not simply designate a phenomenon among others but named the very source of phenomenality. As an exploration of Ponge’s sweeping literary imagination, Schestag’s volume contains a critical and integral facsimile-edition of the collected 225 manuscript pages and typescripts of “Le soleil,” along with transcriptions, translations, and philological commentary.


Zachary Sng, Middling Romanticism: Reading in the Gaps from Kant
to Ashbery
(New York: Fordham University Press, 2020)

Romanticism is often understood as an age of extremes, yet it also marks the birth of the modern medium in all senses of the word. Engaging with key texts of the romantic period, the book outlines a wide-reaching project to re-imagine the middle as a constitutive principle. Sng argues that Romanticism dislodges such terms as medium, moderation, and mediation from serving as mere self-evident tools that conduct from one pole to another. Instead, they offer a dwelling in and with the middle: an attention to intervals, interstices, and gaps that make these terms central to modern understandings of relation.

Here are other new faculty books that appeared earlier in 2020:

Thomas Schestag, Namenlose (Berlin: Matthes & Seitz, 2020)

This book in three parts follows traces of the Odyssey of names (in Homer, Dante, Hölderlin, Borges, and Charles Olson), proceeding from the very name Odysseus, and from Ulysses’ ruse offering to Polyphemus, whose sole eye he will burn out, when asked for his name, an echo of Odysseus: oûtis; literally meaning, when read apart (in Ancient Greek), oú tís, No One, Non-One, Nemo, Nobody …: as if offering (among other readings) the name of namelessness: Nameless as a name (No One as someone’s name). The book’s middle section takes another perspective: It approaches what may be called the architecture of names: discussing stairs and staircases in Franz Kafka’s (published and unpublished) prose, with reference to Kafka’s little story Die Sorge des Hausvaters which centers on a thing-like creature bearing the name Odradek that mostly appears on (and disappears from) stairs and staircases and that, when asked for where he lives, whispers the answer, as if without lungs: “Unbekannter Wohnsitz“ [Whereabouts unknown].

Kristina Mendicino, Announcements: On Novelty (Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 2020)

A study of novelty through analyses of the language of announcement in revolutionary texts. Mendicino argues that the notion of a novum cannot be understood without attentiveness to the language of announcement, not least of all because the "new" has always been associated with a particular mode of linguistic performance. Through close readings of emphatically annunciatory texts, she demonstrates how the extreme possibilities of expression that they present through specific citational and rhetorical praxes render the language of announcement overdetermined and anachronistic in ways that exceed any systematic account of historical time and experience. This excess in and through language is precisely what opens hitherto unheard of alternatives for conceiving of historical temporality and political possibility. 




Congratulations to our faculty on their new publications! 


Thomas Kniesche (ed.), Contemporary German Crime Fiction: A Companion (Berlin: de Gruyter, 2019)

A companion to contemporary German crime fiction for English-speaking audiences is overdue.  The goal of the volume is to make available to English-speaking audiences, to students, teachers and to a wider circle of interested readers, a series of articles on genres, topics, authors, and texts that will help them understand the scope and depth of German crime fiction, its ties to international traditions and also the specificity of the German context, its historical development and contemporary situation.

 Zeit des bewahrens


Gerhard Richter, Ästhetische Eigenzeiten und die Zeit des Bewahrens. Heidegger mit Arendt, Derrida und Kafka (Hannover: Wehrhahn Verlag, 2019)

The book analyzes the problem of aesthetic time--the experience and concept of time proper to a work of art--in relation to Heidegger's as-yet little understood notion of "preserving" a work. This elusive yet powerful concept of "preserving" becomes especially vivid when read in relation to writers such as Arendt, Derrida, and Kafka. The book appeared in a series published under the auspices of the prestigious Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG), the German Research Society, funded by the German states and the federal government.

Thinking with adorno

Gerhard Richter, Thinking with Adorno: The Uncoercive Gaze (New York: Fordham UP, 2019)

What Theodor W. Adorno says cannot be separated from how he says it. By the same token, what he thinks cannot be isolated from how he thinks it. The central aim of Richter’s book is to examine how these basic yet far-reaching assumptions teach us to think with Adorno—both alongside him and in relation to his diverse contexts and constellations. These contexts and constellations range from aesthetic theory to political critique, from the problem of judgment to the difficulty of inheriting a tradition, from the primacy of the object to the question of how to lead a right life within a wrong one

Give the Word


Gerhard Richter and Ann Smock (eds.), Give the Word : Responses to Werner Hamacher's 95 Theses on Philology (Lincoln: U of Nebraska Press, 2019)

In Give the Word eleven scholars of literature and philosophy (Susan Bernstein, Michèle Cohen-Halimi, Peter Fenves, Sean Gurd, Daniel Heller-Roazen, Jan Plug, Gerhard Richter, Avital Ronell, Thomas Schestag, Ann Smock, and Vincent van Gerven Oei) take up the challenge presented by Hamacher’s theses. At the close Hamacher responds to them in a spirited text that elaborates on the context of his 95 Theses and its rich theoretical and philosophical ramifications.


Congratulations to Stephanie Galasso(Ph.D. 2018) on being appointed as Research Associate at the University of Cambridge, UK. She will be part of the Research Group "Representing Lives that Matter: Cultural Production and Social Justice," led by Schröder Professor of German, Sarah Colvin.

Congratulations also to Michael Powers (Ph.D. 2016), who has been appointed Visiting Assistant Professor of German Studies for 2019-20 at Kalamazoo College, MI. 

Gerhard Richter and Susan Bernstein have been awarded Faculty Fellowships at the Pembroke Center for Teaching and Research on Women for 2019-20. They will be participating in the Center's Research Seminar ("What is Critique?") led by the Center's director, Professor Suzanne Stewart-Steinberg. 

From the Cogut Institute for the HumanitiesJan Tabor has received a Tuition Fellowship for the summer 2019 Cornell University School of Criticism and Theory and Michael Paninski has  been awarded a Mellon Graduate Fellowship in Collaborative Humanities.




We welcome Edith Anna Kunz (University of St. Gallen) as the Max Kade Distinguished Visiting Professor in Fall 2018.

Our graduate students Mirjam Paninski and Jan Tabor were awarded Mellon Graduate Fellowship in Collaborative Humanities at the Cogut Institute for the Humanities. 

Congratulations to our recent Ph.D. graduates on their academic appointments:
• Dennis Johannssen (Ph.D. '17) as Visiting Assistant Professor, Lafayette College
• Benjamin Brand (Ph.D. '16) as Visiting Lecturer, University of Pittsburgh
• Michael Powers (Ph.D. ’15) as Visiting Assistant Professor, Reed College

Congratulations also to the seniors who graduated with German Studies as a concentration in 2018:
• Katherine Edgley - AB German Studies, Applied Math
• Erin Gallagher - AB German Studies, Political Science
• Marcus Mamourian - AB German Studies, Comp Lit
• Lily Rockefeller - AB German Studies, Comp Lit