My research and teaching centers around three main areas of expertise: (1) cultural and critical theory from Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud to the Frankfurt School and post-structuralist criticism; (2) the history and theory of scientific cultures; and (3) the rise and fall of the medium of literature from the 18th century to the present. I have written two monographs: Epistemologie des Extremen: Lustmord in Kriminologie und Literatur um 1900 (Fink 2012) reconstructs the creation of criminological knowledge in light of modernist poetics and the narrative strategies invoked in the objectification of the criminal; The Case of Literature: Forensic Narratives from Goethe to Kafka (Cornell UP 2020) offers an investigation into the history of the literary case study from its emergence in the 18th century to its peculiar role in the development of Freud's psychoanalysis. In addition, I am the co-editor of various journal issues and thematic volumes on Kafka's institutions, the role of narrative for the production of scientific cognition, practices of citation, and on materiality and literature in the 19th century. Most recently, I have been interested in the history of the psychiatric and cultural concept of paranoia and how it can help us understand the re-emergence and rise of sovereign forms of authority in the 20th and the 21st centuries. I received my MA from the Humboldt-University in Berlin in 2002, and my PhD from Johns Hopkins University in 2008. Before coming to CU, I taught at Wesleyan University and NYU.
I welcome undergraduate and graduate students to discuss your research projects with me and if you believe that my areas of expertise are relevant for your own studies, I will happily consider joining your committee.
I regularly teach "The Frankfurt School," "Tracing the Criminal," and "Inside Nazi Germany".
Next courses to be taught in Spring 2022:
GRMN 3506 Tracing the Criminal: Crime in 19th Century Society and Culture
“The criminal produces not only crimes but also criminal law, and with this also the professor who gives lectures on criminal law […] He produces […] not only penal codes and along with them legislators in this field, but also art, belles-lettres, novels, and even tragedies”. While Karl Marx depicts the criminal as a productive force that services bourgeois society by saving it from stagnation and boredom, post-Enlightenment European societies identified the criminal as one of the most dangerous threats to social freedom, moral values, and public health. With active help from medical doctors, psychiatrists, and forensic experts, the long 19th Century was eager to develop methods of crime prevention by shifting the focus from the deed to the doer and by deferring responsibilities from legal to medical supervision. With Germany in the fore, 19th Century Western Europe witnessed the rise of criminology as a new field of scientific inquiry and the birth of the criminal as a new separate species. No longer were criminal acts considered result of a false calculation; instead, they became a manifestation of an evil nature.
This course explores the history of the concept of criminality and that of the criminal as an object of scientific research, medical intervention, and cultural representation. Through the prism of literature and cultural discourse, and accompanied by contemporary legal, medical, and forensic documents, students will explore the complex interplay between historical context and cultural production, and how this relationship has shaped the image of the criminal and notions of criminality many of which are still prevalent today.
GRMN 4051/5051 Critical Theory of the Frankfurt School
This course offers an introduction to Critical Theory as envisioned by the thinkers associated with the “Institute for Social Research,” which later became known as the Frankfurt School. After revisiting some of the philosophical foundations including Kant, Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud, we will focus on some of the canonical works of Critical Theory. We will closely read and carefully analyze some of Walter Benjamin’s most important essays before we will focus on two seminal works of Critical Theory: Theodor Adorno’s and Max Horkheimer’s Dialectic of Enlightenment and Herbert Marcuse’s One-Dimensional Man. In the final weeks of the semester, we will read some of the exciting contemporary thinkers like Angela Davis, Nancy Fraser, and Rahel Jaeggi, who have taken this critical philosophical tradition in productive new directions.