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William Arctander O'Brien


Ph.D. (John Hopkins)

Associate Professor of German and Comparative Literature

Primary Office: LIT 328
Primary Phone: (858) 534-4660
Quarterly Office Hours

Email: wobrien@ucsd.edu


Romanticism; Philosophy and Literature; Critical Theory

William Arctander O’Brien joined the Literature Department in 1986. He received his Ph.D. from The Humanities Center at Johns Hopkins after studies at the Universität Stuttgart, and his B.A. from Cornell after studies at the Université de Paris.

O’Brien’s teaching has been recognized with six awards at UCSD, including the Alumni Association’s Award for Distinguished Teaching.  He has taught widely across campus and in the Literature Department, in German Literature (Romanticism, Enlightenment, Novalis, Brecht), Comparative Literature (Nietzsche, Freud, the Frankfurt School), Literatures in English (Allen Ginsberg, Edgar Poe); Literatures of the World (Rousseau/Kant/Sade, Supermarket Checkout Reading), and Cultural Studies (Bob Dylan).

Works in progress includes a monograph on Nietzsche’s collapse and the entry on Novalis for The Oxford Handbook of European Romanticism.

Selected Publications:

"Getting Blasted: Hölderlin's 'Wie wenn am Feiertage...'," MLN, 94.3 (1979): 569-586.

"E.T.A. Hoffmann's Critique of Idealism: Psychology, Allegory, and Philosophy in 'Die Automate,'" Euphorion, 96.4 (1989): 369-406.

"Friedrich von Hardenberg (Novalis)," Dictionary of Literary Biography: The Age of Goethe (1990): 241-249.

"Herstellung eines Mythos: Novalis' Schriften in der Bearbeitung von Tieck und Schlegel," Zeitschrift für deutsche Philologie, 111.2 (1992): 161-180.

Novalis: Signs of Revolution. Duke University Press, 1995.

"'Blüthenstaub:' Dekonstruktion der Symbolik," Blüthenstaub--Rezeption und Wirkung des Werkes von Novalis, Hrsg. von Herbert Uerlings. (Tübingen: Niemeyer, 2000), pp. 125-39.

"Hardenbergs Verfehlungen, oder Die Grenzen der Romantik." Bergbau und Dichtung. Friedrich von Hardenberg (Novalis) zum 200. Todestag. Hrsg. V. Eleonore Sent. (Weimar und Jena: Hain, 2004), pp. 229-36.