Associate Professor
German literature and philosophy from the later 18th to the 20th century, literary theory, German intellectual history

New Cabell Hall, Room 237

Office Hours: 

Fridays 11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. and by appointments

Research Interests/Description: 

Volker Kaiser’s research interests cover the fields of German literature and philosophy around 1800, literary criticism and aesthetic theory, modernity and modernism, as well as the genre of poetry. In his two monographs on modern German poetry he has focused on the intersection between poetic language and acts of reading, arguing that the poems under investigation engage in a critique of the very rhetorical fabric in which the poetic texts stage, enact and explore the paradoxes and conflicts inscribed in this very intersection. Since this mode of rhetorical criticism has implications for the “politics of interpretation”, Kaiser maintains that close readings of literary texts also address larger social, cultural and political concerns in their historical and cultural contexts. Hence his essays stress the pivotal role of interpretation and textual analysis for the socially and historically embedded text on the one hand and a textually structured culture and society on the other. Kaiser is currently editing a book entitled “Perspectives on Europe”, a collection of essays presented at a conference, held at the University of Virginia in the fall of 2006. His next book project is tentatively entitled “The Poetics of the Name”, a study on the role of names in both literary texts and theories of language.

Ph.D. Johns Hopkins University

“The Sounds of Music: Listening to Nietzsche, Thomas Mann and Kafka.” (under review)

“Political Lace.  Heinrich Heine’s Deutschland.  Ein Wintermärchen.”  (under review)

"On Poetic Autobiography: Reading Brecht's "Erinnerung an die Maria A.", in Rethinking Autobiography, ed. by Manfred Schneider and Volker Kaiser (edition in progress)

 “’Fortress Europe’: Racism and Ethnocentrism in Europe in the Fascist and the Postwar Era.” In  Perspectives on Europe: Literary, Cultural and Historical Explorations, ed. by Frank Degler, Roehrig Verlag, St. Ingbert 2008. 

 “Rethinking Autobiography” In: Scripts As/For Life, ed. by Manfred Schneider and Volker Kaiser (edition in progress)

“Adornos Sehnsucht.”  In 1.Jahresband des deutschsprachigen Forschungszentrums für Philosophie, hg. von Mirko Wischke. Universitätsverlag Olomouc:  Olomouc 2005, 199-214.

 “Epistemological Breakdown and Passionate Eruption: Reading Kleist’s Die Verlobung in St. Domingo.”  In Studies in Romanticism. Special Issue on Readings in German Romanticism, ed. by Michel Chaouli.  Boston 2003, 341-367.

“Karl Marx:  Darstellung und Kritik als Versprechen zur Moderne.”  In Jürgen Fohrmann (ed.), 1848, 1949 und das Versprechen zur Moderne.  Würzburg:  Könighausen & Neumann, 2003, 65-84.

“Rewriting the Oedipal Scene.  Image and Discursivity in Wim Wender’s Journey Until the End of the World,” in philosophies of the visible, ed. By Wilhelm S. Wurzer.  Continuum:  New York & London, 2002, 155-165.)  Co-authored by Robert Leventhal.

“Goethes ‘Ich’ und das Subjekt der Dichtung.  Zur Genealogie des Gedichts ‘Auf dem See.’  In Goethe-Yearbook 2002, 197-211.

“Rückkehr des Unbekannten.  Reflexionen aus Amerika.”  In Kultur/Revolution, hg. von Jürgen Link, Heft 9 (September 2001).  Co-authored by Marianne Schuller.

“Der Haken der Auslegung.  Zur Lektüre von Kleists Die Verlobung in St. Domingo.”  In:  Anthenäum.  Jahrbuch für Romantik, vol. 7 (1997), 193-210.
“Der Phall Brecht.  Eine andere Lektüre vom armen B.B.”  In: The Brecht Yearbook 19 (1994), 203-223.
“Poeticizing the Enlightenment.  Kant’s Question-Rorty’s Response.”  In:  Impure Reason.  Dialectic of Enlightenment in Germany, ed. by W. Daniel Wilson and Robert C. Holub.  Detroit:  Wayne State University Press, 1993, 87-105.
“Remarks on the Symbolic Third.  A Response to Vincent Crapanzano’s ‘The Postmodern Crisis.’”  In:  Discussing the Postmodern, ed. by Ravindra S. Khare.  New York/London: University of America Press, 1993.
“Die Katastrophe der Repräsentation.  Überlegungen zum figurativen Sprechen in Rilkes Dichtung.”  Deutsche Vierteljahresschrift 65 (1991): 695-716.
Awards, Grants and Honors: 

Summer Research Grant, UVa College of Arts & Sciences, 2006  and 2007

Sesquicentennial Fellowship, Center for Advanced Studies, University of Virginia, January-December 1997, and January - August 2003

Fourth Year Fellowship for Assistant Professor, University of Virginia, Fall Semester 1991,

Faculty Summer Research Grant, University of Virginia, 1988, 1989, 1991 and 1996

Dean’s Fellowship, The Johns Hopkins University, 1987

Gilman Tuition Fellowship, The Johns Hopkins University, 1982-1987

DAAD Fellowship, University of Hamburg, 1985-1986

The German Society of Maryland, 1985

Roulston Award, The Johns Hopkins University, 1984

Fulbright Grant, 1981-1982, University of Minnesota and Ohio State University


Das Echo jeder Verschattung. Figur und Reflexion bei Rilke, Benn Und Celan.  Passagen-Verlag:  Wien, 1993.

Risus Mortis and Strange Angels: Brechts Gedichte und Benjamins Kommentar.  Mannheimer kultur- und literaturwissenschaftliche Studien. St. Ingbert 2001.