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Benjamin Bennett

Kenan Professor

Office Hours: Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays 3:00 p.m. - 3:30 p.m. and by appointment.

Specialties: Drama, German and European literature of the 18th and early 19th, late 19th and 20th centuries, literary theory


Drama, German and European literature of the 18th and early 19th, late 19th and 20th centuries, literary theory


  • 20th Century Major Authors
  • Utopias and Millennialisms
  • The Dramatic Theater, Theory and Practice
  • Intellectual History from Nietzsche on


  • Insanity
  • The Problematics of Revolution
  • Nietzsche
  • Apocalypse Now (World Destruction in Literature)
  • Freud and Literature
  • Lyric Poetry


Shaping a Modern Ethics:  The Humanist Legacy from Nietzsche to Feminism (London: Bloomsbury academic, 2020).

The Defective Art of Poetry:  Sappho to Yeats (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014)

Aesthetics as Secular Millennialism:  Its Trail from Baumgarten and Kant to Walt Disney and Hitler (Lewisburg, Pa.: Bucknell U. Press, 2013).

The Dark Side of Literacy:  Literature and Learning Not to Read (New York: Fordham University Press, 2008).

All Theater Is Revolutionary Theater (Ithaca: Cornell U. Press, 2005).

Goethe as Woman:  The Undoing of Literature (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2001).

Beyond Theory:  Eighteenth-Century German Literature and the Poetics of Irony (Ithaca:  Cornell University Press, 1993).

Theater As Problem:  Modern Drama and Its Place in Literature (Ithaca: Cornell U. Press, 1990).  Hardbound and paperback.

Hugo von Hofmannsthal:  The Theaters of Consciousness (Cambridge: Cambridge U. Press, 1988).  Paperback edition 2009.

Goethe’s Theory of Poetry:  Faust and the Regeneration of Language (Ithaca:  Cornell U. Press, 1986).

Co-editor of:  Probleme der Moderne:  Studien zur deutschen Literatur von Nietzsche bis Brecht.  Festschrift für Walter Sokel (Tübingen: Niemeyer, 1983).

Modern Drama and German Classicism:  Renaissance from Lessing to Brecht (Ithaca:  Cornell U. Press, 1979).  Awarded the Modern Language Association James Russell Lowell Prize, 1980, for best book by a member of the Association.  Paperback edition, fall 1986.


“The World as Invention,” forthcoming in European Studies:  Past, Present, and Future, ed. Erik Jones (Agenda Publishing, scheduled 2020).

“The Future Lies Ahead,” in Paul Foss and Laurence A. Rickels (eds.), artUS 2011-2012:  The           Collector’s Edition (Bristol, Chicago: Intellect, 2013), pp. 82-89. Reprint of 2011.

“Poetry after Faust,” Goethe Yearbook, 20 (2013), 133-45

“‘Über allen Gipfeln’:  The Poem as Hieroglyph,” in Simon Richter and Richard Block (eds.), Goethe’s Ghosts:  Reading and the Persistence of Literature (Rochester, NY: Camden House, 2013), pp. 56-76.

“Casting Out Nines:  Structure, Parody and Myth in ‘Tonio Kröger,’” in Short Story Criticism, ed. Lawrence J. Trudeau (Detroit: Gale, 2013), pp. 153-163.  Reprint of 1976.

“Goethe’s Werther:  Double Perspective and the Game of Life,” in Nineteenth-Century Literature Criticism, ed. Lawrence J. Trudeau (Detroit: Gale, 2012), pp. 215-224.  Reprint of 1980.

“The Future Lies Ahead” (on Warhol and Danto), artUS, 2011/Issue 31, 80-89.

 “The Thinking Machine,” Revue internationale de philosophie, 65, no. 255 (=1/2011), 7-26.

Histrionic Nationality:  Implications of the Verse in Faust,” in Goethe Yearbook, 17 (2010), pp. 21-30.

 “Freud and the Denationalization of Literature,” artUS, 2010/1, 50-57.

 “Secret Theses III:  At World’s End,” artUS, 24/25 (Winter 2008), 60-63.

 “Intransitive Autobiography:  Naked Lunch and the Problem of Personal Identity,” artUS, 24/25 (Winter 2008), 31-38.

 “The Politics of the Mörike-Debate and Its Object,” in Nineteenth-Century Literature Criticism, vol. 201, Gale Literary Criticism Series, Kathy D. Darrow, project editor (Detroit, 2008), pp. 356-365.

“Secret Theses II:  The Novel as Armageddon,” artUS, 23 (Summer 2008), 50-53.

“Secret Theses on Literature and Politics,” artUS, 22 (Spring 2008), 34-36.

“The Irrelevance of Aesthetics and the De-Theorizing of the Self in ‘Classical’ Weimar,” in Simon Richter (ed.), The Literature of Weimar Classicism (Rochester, N.Y.: Camden House, 2005), pp. 295-321.

“The Absence of Drama in Nineteenth-Century Germany,” in Clayton Koelb and Eric Downing (eds.), German Literature of the Nineteenth Century, 1832-1899 (Rochester, NY: Camden House, 2005), pp. 157-81.

“Attack of the Kleins,” artUS, 8 (May/June 2005), 50-51.

“It’s a Word! It’s a Claim! . . . Modernism and Related Instances of an Inherently Discredited Conceptual Type,” artUS, special issue 5/6 (Jan./Feb. 2005), 10-15.

“Speech, Writing and Identity in the West-östlicher Divan,” in Goethe Yearbook, 12 (2004), pp. 161-83.

“Hofmannsthal’s Theater of Adaptation,” in Thomas A. Kovach (ed.), A Companion to the Works of Hugo von Hofmannsthal (Rochester, N.Y., 2002), pp. 97-115.

“Foreword,” to each of the three volumes of Laurence A. Rickels, Nazi Psychoanalysis (Minneapolis, 2002).

“Interrupted Tragedy as a Structural Principle in Faust,” in Johann Wolfgang von Goethe:  Faust, A Tragedy:  Interpretive Notes, Contexts, Modern Criticism, ed. Cyrus Hamlin (New York and London, 2001), pp. 598-611. 

“Strindberg and Ibsen: Toward a Cubism of Time in Drama,” in Modernism in European Drama:  Ibsen, Strindberg, Pirandello, Beckett, ed. Frederick J. Marker, Christopher Innes (Toronto, 1998), pp. 69-91. 

“Bridge:  Against Nothing” (on Nietzsche, Derrida, Irigaray), in Nietzsche and the Feminine, ed. Peter J. Burgard (U. Press of Virginia: Charlottesville, 1994), pp. 289-315.

“The Politics of the Mörike Debate and Its Object,” Germanic Review, 68 (1993), 60-68.

“Performance and the Exposure of Hermeneutics,” Theatre Journal, 44 (1992), pp. 431-447.

“Brecht’s Writing against Writing,” The Brecht Yearbook 17 (1992), pp. 164-179.

“Intransitive Parody and the Trap of Reading in Turn-of-the-Century German Prose,” in Fictions of Culture:  Essays in Honor of Walter H. Sokel, ed. Steven Taubeneck (New York: Peter Lang, 1991), pp. 135-167.

“Structure, Parody and Myth in Tonio Kröger,” reprint of no. 20, in Harold Bloom (ed.), Thomas Mann, Modern Critical Views (New York: Chelsea House, 1986), pp. 227-240.

“Werther and Montaigne:  The Romantic Renaissance,” Goethe Yearbook, 3 (1986), 1-20.

“Prometheus and Saturn:  The Three Versions of Götz von Berlichingen,” German Quarterly, 58 (1985), 335-47.

“Cinema, Theater and Opera:  Modern Drama as Ceremony,” Modern Drama, 28 (1985), 1-21.

“Utopia to the Second Power:  Literary Interpretation as Social Thought,” without the title, as a review article on Hermand, Orte. Irgendwo, in German Quarterly, 56 (1983), 106-112.

“The Generic Constant in Lessing’s Development of a Comedy of Institutions and Alienation,” German Quarterly, 56 (1983), 231-242.

“Strindberg and Ibsen: Toward a Cubism of Time in Drama,” Modern Drama, 26 (1983), 262-281.

“Levels and Movements of Consciousness in Goethe’s Faust,” Theatre Journal, 34, no. l (March, 1982), 5-19.

“Trinitarische Humanität:  Dichtung und Geschichte bei Schiller,” in Friedrich Schiller:  Kunst, Humanität und Politik in der späten Aufklärung:  Ein Symposium, ed. Wolfgang Wittkowski (Tübingen:  Niemeyer, 1982), pp. 164-180.

 “Stefan Georges ‘Ursprünge’:  Zur Deutung des ‘Siebenten Rings,’“ CASTRVM PEREGRINI, 31 (1982), no. 155, pp. 28-51. 

“The Classical, the Romantic and the Tragic in Part Two of Goethe’s Faust,” Studies in Romanticism, 19 (1980), 529-550.

“‘Ursprünge’:  The Secret Language of George’s Der siebente Ring,” Germanic Review, 55 (1980), 74-81.

“Goethe’s Werther:  Double Perspective and the Game of Life,” German Quarterly, 53 (1980), 64-81.

“Nietzsche’s Idea of Myth:  The Birth of Tragedy from the Spirit of Eighteenth-Century Aesthetics,” PMLA, 94 (1979), 420-433.

“The Idea of the Audience in Lessing’s Inexplicit Tragic Dramaturgy,” Lessing Yearbook, XI (1979), 59-68.

 “The Two ‘Study’ Scenes and the Pentagram in Goethe’s Faust,” Essays in Literature, 5 (1978), 223-237.

“Reason, Error and the Shape of History:  Lessing’s Nathan and Lessing’s God,” Lessing Yearbook, IX (1977), 60-80.

“Goethe’s Egmont as a Politician,” Eighteenth-Century Studies, 10 (1977), 351-366.

“Interrupted Tragedy as the Structure of Goethe’s Faust,” Mosaic, XI/1 (Fall, 1977), 37-51.

“Death and the Fools,” German Life & Letters, 30 (1976-77), 65-72.

“‘Vorspiel auf dem Theater’:  The Ironic Basis of Goethe’s Faust,” German Quarterly, 49 (1976), 438-455.

“Casting Out Nines:  Structure, Parody and Myth in Tonio Kröger,” Revue des Langues Vivantes, 42 (1976), 126-146.

“Missed Meetings in Hofmannsthal’s Der Schwierige,” Forum for Modern Language Studies, 12 (1976), 59-64.

“Hofmannsthal’s Return,” Germanic Review, 51 (1976), 28-40.

“Werther and Chandos,” Modern Language Notes, 91 (1976), 552-558.

“Kleist’s Puppets in Early Hofmannsthal,” Modern Language Quarterly, 37 (1976), 151-167.

“Hans Karl’s Unmysterious Return,” Essays in Literature, 2 (1975), 230-244.

“Idea, Reality and Play-Acting in Der Tor und der Tod,” Orbis Litterarum, 30 (1975), 262-276.

with Frank G. Ryder, “The Irony of Goethe’s Hermann und Dorothea:  Its Form and Function,” PMLA, 90 (1975), 433-446.

 “The Role of Vorwitz in Hofmannsthal’s Das Salzburger Groβe Welttheater,” Symposium, 29 (1975), 13-29.

“Chandos and his Neighbors,” Deutsche Vierteljahrsschrift, 49 (1975), 315-331.

“The Smallest World Theater,” Mosaic, VII/2 (Winter, 1975), 53-66.

“‘Tis Sixty Years Since,” review article on Strich, Die Mythologie in der deutschen Literatur, in German Quarterly, 45 (1972), 684-702.

“Language in College,” Bulletin of the Association of Departments of Foreign Languages, 3, no. 4 (May, 1972), 18-20.10.  “The Future of the Infinitive,” The Serif, 8, no. 3 (Sept. 1971), 14-19.


on W.B. Worthen,  Print and the Poetics of Modern Drama, Modern Drama, 50 (2007), 651-53.

on David E. Wellbery et al, eds., A New History of German LiteratureModern Language Quarterly 68 (2007), 578-82.

on Clark S. Muenzer, Figures of IdentityGoethe Yearbook, 3 (1986), 232-36.

on Ronald Speirs, Brecht’s Early Plays, in Modern Drama, 27 (1984), 273-274.

on Gabriele Girschner, Goethes Tasso, in Goethe Yearbook, II (1984), pp. 241-2.

on Göres, Goethes Leben, in GQ, 56 (1983), 501.

on John Geary, Goethe’s Faust, in GR, 58 (1983), 121.

on Anthony J. Niesz, Dramaturgy in German Drama, in GQ, 55 (1982), 581-582.

on Hans-Jürgen Schings, Der mitleidigste Mensch . . ., in JEGP, 81 (1982), 537-538.

on Grimm/Hermand (eds.), Karl Marx und Friedrich Nietzsche, in Monatshefte, 72 (1980), 349-352.

on Richard Unger, Hölderlin’s Major Poetry, in GQ, 51 (1978), 218-219.

on Daviau/Buelow, The “Ariadne auf Naxos” of Hugo von Hofmannsthal and Richard Strauss, in GQ, 50 (1977), 183-184.

on two Hölderlin items, in GQ, 47 (1974), 128-129.

on Sigurd Burckhardt, The Drama of Language, in GQ, 46, Memb. Dir. (Sept. 1973), 135-138.

on F. W. Wodtke (ed.), Gottfried Benn:  Selected Poems, in GQ, 44 (1971), 614-617.

on Walter Silz, Hölderlin’s Hyperion, in GQ, 44 (1971), 383-387.

on Leroy R. Shaw, The Playwright & Historical Change, in GQ, 44 (1971), 75-79.

Awards, Grants and Honors

Keynote speaker at Indiana University Graduate Student Conference, Feb. 2011

Maxwell Lecturer, Rutgers University, April 2002

Keynote speaker at the annual Dies Universitatis of the Friedrich-Schiller Universität in Jena, June 2001

Modern Language Association James Russell Lowell Prize, 1980, for Modern Drama and German Classicism

Guggenheim Fellowship, 1979-80

ACLS Fellowship, 1976-77