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Todd Kontje


Ph.D. (Princeton)

Professor of German and Comparative Literature
Distinguished Professor

Primary Office: LIT 327
Primary Phone: Contact Department
Quarterly Office Hours

Email: tkontje@ucsd.edu

I received my PhD in German literature from Princeton University after having studied English and German at the University of Oregon. I taught at Columbia University for several years before moving to UC San Diego in 1991. Here I teach undergraduate courses in German and European literature and the occasional seminar in critical theory. Over the years I have received fellowships from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), the Alexander von Humboldt Society, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. Although I have written on a wide variety of authors and periods of German literature, my work has consistently focused on questions surrounding national identity. Thus my publications about the Bildungsroman examine the critical discourse surrounding this allegedly German genre. Women, the Novel, and the German Nation focuses on the role of women writers and domestic fiction in relation to public politics. German Orientalisms offers a broad historical discussion of the ways in which Germany has defined itself in relation to the East (real or imagined) and in the process set itself off from other western European nations. Thomas Mann’s World traces the interrelated themes of racial difference and the “Jewish question” in the work of this self-proclaimed representative of the German nation, with particular attention to the symbolic geography in his literary works. My current project, tentatively titled German Literature and the Idea of Empire, explores ways in which German-language writers from the early Middle Ages to the present have imagined communities before and beyond the nation-state. I argue that it is time to stop thinking about today’s multicultural present as a deviation from a culturally monolithic past. We should rather consider the various permutations of “German” identities that have been negotiated within local and imperial contexts from late antiquity to the present.


Selected Publications:

Thomas Mann's World: Empire, Race, and the Jewish Question. Ann Arbor, Michigan: University of Michigan Press, 2011.

The Cambridge Introduction to Thomas Mann. Camridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011.

German Orientalisms. Ann Arbor, Michigan: University of Michigan Press, 2004.

A Companion to German Realism (editor, introduction). Camden House Studies in German Literature, Linguistics, and Culture. Rochester, New York: Boydell & Brewer, 2002.

Women, the Novel, and the German Nation 1771-1871: Domestic Fiction in the Fatherland. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1998.

The German Bildungsroman: History of a National Genre. Literary Criticism in Perspective. Columbia, South Carolina: Camden House, 1993.

Private Lives in the Public Sphere: The German 'Bildungsroman' as Metafiction. University Park, Pennsylvania: Penn State Press, 1992.

Editorial Boards:

Colloquia Germanica, Publications of the English Goethe Society

The German Quarterly