1201 17th St

David Ferris (Ph.D., SUNY-Buffalo) is Professor Humanities. Prior to teaching at CU-Boulder he held concurrent positions in Comparative Literature, English and German at the Graduate School and in Comparative Literature at Queens College of the City University of New York, in Comparative Literature and English at Yale University, and in English at Haverford College. His recent publications include essays on Jacques Rancière, Giorgio Agamben, Schiller, Adorno and Modernism, Benjamin and photography, Vattimo and the postmodern. He is also a contributor to the American Comparative Literature Association’s Ten Year Report on the Discipline and will conribute an essay to the Blackwell Companion to Comparative Literature. His current projects include two books: Politics after Aesthetics and Postmodern Mimesis: The Ethics of Distortion. He has received a Senior Faculty Research Fellowship from the ACLS, NEH Summer Research Grant, and has been a Fellow at the Whitney Humanities Center at Yale. He will be a fellow at the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences, and Humanities (CRASSH) at the University of Cambridge, UK, during the Easter Term, 2010.

Teaching Interests
Modern European literature-especially poetry, modernity and the postmodern, photography and painting, reception of the Enlightenment in the 19th and 20th centuries, lyric poetry, 19th and 20th century aesthetics and literary theory, the Frankfurt School, Walter Benjamin, political theory, 18th and late 20th century painting.

Recent Courses

  • HUMN 2000: Methods/Approaches to the Humanities
  • HUMN 3660: The Postmodern
  • HUMN 4060: Reading Theory
  • HUMN 4093: Modernity/Postmodernity
  • COML 5000: Proseminar in Comparative Literature
  • COML 5370/ENGL 5549: Modern Lyric
  • COML 5610: Introduction to Literary Theory
  • COML 6040: 1968: Politics after Aesthetics
  • COML 6040: Histories of the Real: The Modern and the Postmodern
  • COML 6040: Politics and Aesthetics


ferris_WBIntroduction_SM The Cambridge Introduction to Walter Benjamin Cambridge University Press, 2008
The Cambridge Companion to Walter Benjamin The Cambridge Companion to Walter Benjamin (Ed.) Cambridge University Press, 2004
 Romanticism, Hellenism, Modernity Silent Urns: Romanticism, Hellenism, Modernity Stanford University Press, 2000
 Theoretical Questions Walter Benjamin: Theoretical Questions (Ed.) Stanford University Press, 1996
Theory and Evasion of History Theory and the Evasion of History Johns Hopkins University Press, 1993


Recent Articles

Recent Conferences & Guest Lectures

  • “Agamben Messianic,” The Literary and Critical Theory Seminar, Institute of English Studies, University of London, March 2009.
  • “Politics After Aesthetics: Disagreeing with Rancière,” The Humanities Center, Johns Hopkins University, November 2008.
  • “The Gift of the Political: Schiller and the Greeks,” Dept. of German/Deutsches Haus, New York University, November 2008.
  • “The Distortion of Presence: Sebald’s Ethical Memory,” W.G. Sebald International Conference, University of East Anglia, September 2008.
  • “Postmodern Obstructions: Dogma and Obstruction in Lars von Trier’s The Five Obstructions,” University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, April 2008.
  • “Taking Exception to Romanticism,” Centro Interdisciplinare di Studi Romantici/North American Association for the Study of Romanticism, University of Bologna, March 2008.
  • “Unpresenting Law: Aesthetic Crisis in Schiller’s Politics,” Special Session, Joint Conference, North American Association for the Study of Romanticism/British Association for Romantic Studies, Bristol University, July 2007.
  • “L’Esitazione di Vattimo,” Dept. of Philosophy, University of Turin, April 2006.
  • “Documenting Politics: Walter Benjamin and Photography,” Queens University, Belfast, April 2006.
  • “Walter Benjamin: Founding the Politics of Modernity,” Emmanuel College, Cambridge University, April 2006.
  • “Celebrating Schiller Celebrating Greeks: The Return of the Political,” Schiller Bicentennial, University of Erfurt, Germany, October 2005.
  • “From Interruption to Obstruction: Modernity and the Postmodern in Heinrich Böll and Lars von Trier” Dept. of German, Johns Hopkins University, September 2005.
  • “Shadows on the Wall of Reason: Diderot before Fragonard,” Dept. of French and Italian, Princeton University, October 2004.
  • “Politics of the Useless: Art between Heidegger and Benjamin 1935-36,” Dept. of German, Princeton University, October 2004.
  • “An Art for Postmodernity?” Dept. of Philosophy, University of Turin, Italy, May 2004.
  • “Captions for Modernity: Atget with Benjamin,” Dept. of Philosophy, University of Turin, Italy, May 2004.
  • “Kant with Diderot: Interdisciplinarity and the Englightenment of Reason,” Center for the Study of Theory and Criticism, University of Western Ontario, Canada, October 2003.