Claudia Brodsky

Professor of Comparative Literature
Office Phone
135 East Pyne

Office Hours Spring 2024: By Appointment

Periods: seventeenth century to present

Languages: German, English, French, Spanish, Portuguese

Research Interests: Literature and Philosophy, including Lyric Poetry and Poetic Theory, seventeenth century to present, German, English, French, Spanish, Portuguese; Enlightenment and Romanticism; Literary Theory and Criticism, continental and American; Epistemology and Theory of Representation; Comparative Poetics, Renaissance to Modern: Form, Word, Image, Sign; Aesthetic Theory and Architectural Theory, ancient through modern; Social and Political Theory, seventeenth century to present; Linguistics and Language Theory. 
Prof. Brodsky earned her B.A. in Comparative Literature magna cum laude from Harvard, where she studied with Octavio Paz, Dorrit Cohn, Elizabeth Bishop, Roberto Unger, Robert Fitzgerald, Juan Marechal, and William Alfred, and was awarded a de Karman Fellowship for Outstanding Achievement in the Humanities.  She received a German Govt./DAAD Fellowship for postgraduate study in German philosophy and literature at Freiburg, i. Br., and subsequently taught German and co-wrote a syndicated educational English-Portuguese language series for the Carlos Chagas and Ford Foundations in São Paulo, Brazil.  She earned her Ph.D. with distinction in Comparative Literature from Yale, where she studied with Paul de Man, Peter Demetz, Frederic Jameson, Geoffrey Hartman, Jacques Derrida, Thomas Greene, J. Hillis Miller, Harold Bloom, and Peter Brooks, and was awarded a Darling Fellowship for Excellence in the Humanities, Danforth and Whiting Fellowships, and a DAAD Fellowship to study Goethe with Wolfgang Frühwald in Munich. She taught literature and language in the Yale English and German Depts. and Intensive Portuguese at the Yale Summer Language Institute while a graduate student; appointed Asst. Professor of German at Yale in 1984, she was recruited the same year to join the Dept. of Comparative Literature at Princeton, where she has taught since 1985. 
While at Princeton she was elected Directeur de Programme at the Collège International de Philosophie, Paris, received the Elias Boudinot Bicentennial Prize Preceptorship, Humboldt Faculty and Howard Fellowships, taught as Guest Professor in the Stanford German Dept., and was an invited Senior Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies of the Albert-Ludwigs Universität, Freiburg. She has served on the Executive Committees of the MLA Divisions in “Comparative Studies in the Nineteenth-Century and Romanticism,” “Philosophical Approaches to Literature,” “Comparative Studies in Eighteenth-Century Literature,” “Interdisciplinary Approaches to Society and Culture,” and “Literature and the Other Arts” and been a frequent participant and organizer at ASECS, ICLA, and Goethe Society conferences.
Prof. Brodsky has advised over forty PhD students to date, including students in the departments of Comparative Literature, German, Spanish and Portuguese, and the School of Architecture. For a list of completed dissertations she has advised, please see her curriculum vitae. 

The Linguistic Condition. Kant's Critique of Judgment and the Poetics of Action (forthcoming) (on “common sense” in Kant’s Third Critique and Eighteenth-Century Origin of Language Theory; includes chapters on language and epistemology in Kant and Diderot; on the “schema” in Kant’s “Transcendental Aesthetic” and theory of poetry in the Third Critique; on judgment and linguistic form in Kleist; on Wordsworth’s poetic theory and poetry; on language and the limits of experience in Diderot, Rousseau, Hegel, Wordsworth and Proust).

Words' Worth: What the Poet Does (forthcoming) (theory and practice of "the real language of men" in Wordsworth and related 18th-20th century poets and philosophers defining ethics and epistemology of poetics in contrast to affect). 

In the Place of Language. Literature and the Architecture of the Referent. Fordham, 2009 (on the marking of place and making of referential historical knowledge in works by Goethe, Rousseau, and Kant, with discussions of Heidegger, Benjamin, Lanzmann and Schmitt; part of 3 vol. work, Writing and Building, on the role of architectural form in the discourses of philosophy and literature).

Lines of Thought. Discourse, Architectonics, and the Origin of Modern Philosophy Duke, 1996 (the cogito of Descartes’ Discours de la méthode in relation to his Géometrie; la querelle des anciens et modernes and the aesthetics of the Cartesian architectural theorist, Claude Perrault).

The Imposition of Form. Studies in Narrative Representation and Knowledge. Princeton, 1987 (Kant’s Logik in relation to the Third Critique and Second Critique; Kant’s critical epistemology in relation to narrative works by Goethe, Austen, Balzac, Stendhal, Melville, Proust).

Birth of a Nation’hood, co-edited with Toni Morrison, Pantheon, 1997.

Selected Articles and Chapters in Edited Volumes

(See curriculum vitae for complete listing.)

"The Working of Narrative in Absalom, Absalom!," Amerika Studien/American Studies 23 (1978): 240-59

"The Coloring of Relations: Die Wahlverwandtschaften as Farbenlehre," MLN, Comparative Literature Issue 97 (1982): 1147-79.

 "Donne: The Imaging of the Logical Conceit," ELH 49 (1982): 829- 848.

"Lessing and the Drama of the Theory of Tragedy," MLN, German Issue 98 (1983): 426-453.

"Architecture and Architectonics: 'The Art of Reason' in Kant's Critique," in Canon, Vol. 3 of The Princeton Journal: Thematic Studies in Architecture (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1988), pp. 103-117.

"Narrative Representation and Criticism: 'Crossing the Rubicon' in Clarissa," in Reading Narrative: Form, Ethics, Ideology, ed. James Phelan, Ohio State University Press, 1989, pp. 207-219.

"'The Impression of Movement'": Jean Racine, Architecte," in Autour de Racine: Studies in Intertextuality, ed. Richard Goodkin, Yale French Studies 74 (1989): 162-181.

"Austen's Pride and Prejudice and Hegel's 'Truth in Art': Concept, Reference, History," English Literary History 59 (1992): 592-623.

"Doing Things with Words: 'Racism' as Speech Act and the Undoing of Justice" (speech act theory in Rousseau and Austin), in Race-ing Justice, En-Gendering Power, edited and with an Introduction by Toni Morrison (New York: Pantheon Books/Random House, 1992), pp. 127-155.

"The Temporality of Convention: Convention Theory and Romanticism," (a comparative analysis of continental convention theory in the long eighteenth century and contemporary anglo-american analytic philosophy), in Rules and Conventions: Essays in Literature, Philosophy, and Social Theory, ed. Mette Hjort (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992), pp. 391-418.

"Whatever Moves You: 'Experimental Philosophy' and the Literature of Experience in Diderot and Kleist," in The Tradition of Experiment from the Enlightenment to the Present, eds. N. Kaiser and D. Wellbery, (Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 1992), pp. 17-43 (short, partial version of book chapter from Enlightenment and Romanticism).

"'Terrible Novelty': Baudelaire's Vision of Building," in Nineteenth-Century French Studies in Literature and the Arts, ed. Keith Busby (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1992), pp. 43-57.

"'Is that Helen?': Contemporary Pictorialism and Aesthetics and Epistemology from Lessing to Kant," Comparative Literature 45 (1993): 230-57.

"Romantic and Postromantic Poetics" (poetry, and criticism, theory and philosophy of poetry, England, Germany, France, America, Spain, Italy, Russia, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries), in The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics, Third Edition, Completely revised, ed. T. V. F. Brogan and A. Preminger (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993; rev. ed. 2012), pp. 1078-92 (double column, reduced).

"Twentieth-Century Poetics" (poetry, and criticism, theory and hilosophy of poetry, Germany and France, 1900 to the present), in The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics, Third Edition, Completely Revised, ed. T. V. F. Brogan and A. Preminger (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993), pp. 1319-26 (double column, reduced).

"Zur vermittelten Präsenz der deutschen Tradition" (linguistic nationalism and hybridity, Fichte to Heidegger), in Germanistik in den USA, ed. Willi Goetschel, special issue of the Weimarer Beiträge 3 (1993): 344-59.

"Zum Widerspruch der Konvention: Sprache und Gesellschaftsvertrag" (Rousseau and contemporary political theory) in Perspektiven der Dialogik, Hrg. Willi Goethschel (Vien: Passagen Verlag, 1994).

"Grounds of Comparison" (Descartes and Goethe), World Literature Today, special issue on theories of comparison, Vol. 69, No. 2 (1995): 271-74 (double column, reduced). (Chosen for translation and publication in a volume on theory of comparison, Poland, 2010.)

"Toni Morrison: Writing Above Ground," Humanities, National Endowment for the Humanities, March/April 1996, pp. 14-17, 43-47 (triple column)

"Architecture in the Discourse of Modern Philosophy: from Descartes to Nietzsche," The Getty Center for the History of Art and the Humanities Issues and Debates series, volume on "Nietzche and an 'Architecture of Our Minds," ed. Irving Wohlfarth and Alexandre Kostka (Los Angeles:Getty Center, 1999).

"Komparatistik in den USA -- Vergleichen im multikulturellen Umfeld" (enlightenment comparative theory and multiculturalism in contemporary comparative literature), in volume, Allgemeine Literaturwissenschaft. Konturen und Profile im Pluralismus, Hrg. Carsten Zelle (Opladen/Wiesbaden: Westdeutscher Verlag, 1999).

"Matière chez Descartes: entre épistémologie et esthétique," in L’esprit cartésien, 2 vol., ed. Bernard Bourgeois et Jacques Havet (Paris: J. Vrin, 2000).

“Housing the Spirit in Hegel: From the Pyramids to Romantic Poetry,” in Rereading Romanticism, ed. Martha Helfer (Amsterdamer Beitraege zur neueren Germanistik, Bd. 47 2000), pp. 327-366.

"Narrate or Educate: Père Goriot and the Realist Bildungsroman," in Approaches to Teaching Balzac's Père Goriot, ed. Michal P. Ginsburg (New York: PMLA, 2000).

"'The Body Politic' and Social Contract Theory: the Phenomenon of ‘Total Alienation," in Bodies of Resistance: New Phenomenologies of Politics, Agency, and Culture, ed. Laura Doyle, (Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern University Press: Philosophy, Literature, and Culture Series, 2001), pp. 37-56

“‘Architectural History’: Hölderlin and Benjamin,” boundary 2, spring 2003.

“Szondi and Hegel: ‘The Troubled Relationship of Literary Criticism to Philosophy,” special issue of Telos Fall 2007.

“Beyond the Pleasure of the Principle of Death: Goethe’s Werther and Goldsmith’s Vicar of Wakefield,” in Einsamkeit und Geselligkeit um 1800, ed. S. Schmid and R. Emig (Hamburg: Carl Winter Verlag, 2008).

“Architecture in Kant and Heidegger: the ‘Building’ of Critique and the ‘House of Being,” in Recht und Frieden in Kant, Hrsg. R. Terra, Berlin: de Gruyter Verlag, Nov. 2008

“Technology as Timelessness: Building and Language in Faust,” solicited contribution to Twenty-First Century Faust Studies, ed. L. Fitzsimmons, Palgrave, Winter 2008.

“Framing the Sensuous: Objecthood and ‘Objectivity’ in Art after Adorno,” solicited contribution to Art and Aesthetics after Adorno, ed. Anthony Cascardi (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2010).

“‘Auf das Wo komme es eigentlich an’: Memory, Catastrophe, and Society in Lanzmann, Rousseau, and Goethe,” in Katastrophe und Gedächtnis, ed. Thomas Klinkert and Günter Oesterle (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2014).

“Remembering Swann: Memory and Representation in Proust, solicited contribution to ”Swann’s Way. A Norton Critical Edition. ed. Susanna Lee (New York: Norton, 2014)                

“Aesthetic Activity,” in Toni Morrison. Memory and Meaning, ed. Adrienne Lanier Seward and Justine Tally (Jackson: University of Mississippi Press, 2014).  

“‘The Real Horizon’ (beyond Emotions). What Proust (Wordsworth, Rousseau, Diderot, and Hegel) Had ‘in’ Mind,” in Rethinking Emotion. Interiority and Exteriority in Premodern, Modern, and Contemporary Thought, ed. Rüdiger Campe and Julia Weber (Berlin: de Gruyter Press, 2014)

Courses Recently Taught (fall 2008-fall 2014; on leave fall 2013-spring 2014)

Conceptions of the Sensory

Lyric Language and Form (Pts. I and II): Renaissance to Romantic (I); Romantic to Modern (II)

Dialectic and Difference

Literary Theory and Criticism

Descartes, Kant, Hegel


Topics in Critical Theory

Origins of Language

Fiction: Theory and Practice

Romanticism and Realism

“What is Enlightenment?” Social and Political Theory in the Age that Defined the “Human”

“The Ambiguous Image”: The Relation between Literary and Aesthetic Theory in Diderot, Lessing, Baudelaire and Benjamin

Selected Media:

Interviews with Toni Morrison:

Toni Morrison on language, the problem of "mute goodness" in literary works, writing without the "white gaze"