Kirk Wetters

Kirk Wetters's picture
Professor Germanic Languages & Literatures and Department Chair
100 Wall St, New Haven, CT 06511-6607


PhD New York University, New York City, NY

Kirk’s current research continues to pursue the intertwined genealogies of literary and critical theory in connection to questions of method in the humanities and social sciences. Under the thematic heading of “illegitimacy,” recent research and teaching have focused on Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Herman Melville, J. J. Bachofen, Max Weber, Georg Lukács, Arnold Schoenberg, Karl Löwith, Heimito von Doderer, Theodor W. Adorno, Hans Blumenberg and Giorgio Agamben (among others). A second ongoing project focuses on travel writing, historical fiction and biography; authors include Georg Forster, Goethe, Adalbert Stifter, Stefan Zweig, Hermann Broch, and Christoph Ransmayr.


  • 2015-        Yale University, Professor of German
  • 2009-2015 Yale University, Associate Professor of German
  • 2004-2009 Yale University,
 Assistant Professor of German

Current Teaching

  • “Goethe’s Faust” (grad-undergrad seminar), Fall 2016
  • “Literature of Travel and Tourism” (grad-undergrad seminar), Fall 2016
  • “Music and Literature” (L5 seminar), Spring 2016

Books and Co-Edited Volumes

Article Publications

  • ““Who Cares About Society?: Sorge and Reification in Goethe’s Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre.” In Colloquia Germanica. Eds. Arne Höcker and Franziska Schweiger (forthcoming 2016).
  • “Genealogy Trouble: Secularization and the Leveling of Theory.” In Theological Genealogies: Reflections on Secularization in Twentieth-Century Continental Thought. Eds. Willem Styfhals and Stepháne Symons (forthcoming from Cornell University Press, 2016).
  • “‘Die Tiefe ist außen’ – Heimito von Doderers gegenreformerische Lebensreform,” co-authored with Robert Walter-Jochum (forthcoming 2016).
  • “What’s the Upshot? Post-Enlightenment Science and Weber’s Concept of Value Neutrality.” In For a New Enlightenment. Eds. Hans Adler and Rüdiger Campe (forthcoming from Camden House 2016).
  • “‘Gefühl eines Ungeheuerlichen’: Monster-Forms in Heimito von Doderer’s Die Dämonen” (forthcoming in Schriften der Heimito von Doderer Gesellschaft).
  • “Konjunktivisches Erzählen in Heimito von Doderers Die Dämonen.” In Heimito von Doderers “Dämonen”-Roman: Lektüren. Eds. Eva Geulen and Tim Albrecht. Beiheft zur Zeitschift für deutsche Philologie. Berlin: Erich Schmidt Verlag 2016, 125-140.
  • “‘Am sausenden Webstuhl der Zeit, web’ ich der Gottheit lebendiges Kleid’: Spuren des Dämonischen in Oswald Spenglers Geschichtsmorphologie.” In Tektonik der Systeme: Neulektüren von Oswald Spengler. Eds. Arne de Winde, Sven Fabré, Sientje Maes, Bart Philipsen and Le Prince-Évêque. Heidelberg: Synchron Verlag 2016, 78-92.
  • “Skepsis,” co-authored with Florian Fuchs. In Blumenberg lesen: ein Glossar. Eds. Robert Buch and Daniel Weidner. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp 2014, 276-291.
  • “The Luciferian and the Demonic in Georg Lukács’ Theorie des Romans.” In “Das Dämonische”: Schicksale einer Kategorie der Zweideutigkeit. Munich: Fink Verlag 2014.
  • “Working Over Philosophy: Hans Blumenberg’s Reformulations of the Absolute.” In Telos 158: Spring 2012, 100-118.
  • “Self-Regulation, Reception and Ridicule in Hölderlin’s Hyperion.” In MLN 123.3. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press 2008, 534-550.
  • “The Rule of the Norm and the Political Theology of ‘Real Life’ in Carl Schmitt and Giorgio Agamben.” In Diacritics 36.1. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press 2006, 31-46. Reprinted in: Agamben and Law. Ed. Thanos Zartaloudis. Farnham, Surrey, England: Ashgate 2015.

Current Papers and Presentations

  • July 6-9, 2017 (projected): American Comparative Literature Association conference seminar,  “Literary Space in Modernist Literature 1890-1960” (Utrecht, Netherlands), co-organized with Yvonne Wolf and Andreas Solbach of the University of Mainz.
  • September 29-October 2, 2016: German Studies Association seminar, “‘Technical Means’: Heimito von Doderer and the Modern novel” (San Diego CA), co-organized with Christopher Chiasson of Indiana University.
  • June 10, 2016: “Bilderverbot: The Straub/Huillet Film of Schoenberg’s Moses und Aron,” colloquium presentation at the annual meeting of the American Friends of Marbach (Marbach, Germany).
  • June 8, 2016: “Philology as Passion,” paper presentation at the literary colloquium “Texte.Zeichen.Medien” at the University of Erfurt.
  • May 24, 2016: “Problems with Trees: Genealogy and Genetic Criticism,” conference paper at Ethical Reading: Philology, Philosophy and Poetry(Oriel College, Oxford University).
  • April 16, 2016: “‘Fateful Hours’: Stefan Zweig’s Demonic Histories,” conference paper at Austrian Modernism and the Habsburg Myth (Yale University).
  • October 1-4, 2015: “Human Objects: Reification in Georg Lukács and Goethe’s Wilhelm Meister,” conference paper at the German Studies Association Conference (Washington, DC).
  • September 25, 2015: “Genealogy Trouble: Secularization and the Leveling of Theory,” invited lecture at the Institute for German Cultural Studies at Cornell.
  • May 13-15, 2015: “Pathologies of Care in Goethe’s Wilhelm Meister” at “The Eighteenth-Century: Who Cares?,” invited lecture at the Workshop of Indiana Center for Eighteenth-Century Studies (Bloomington, IN).