Thomas Pfau

Thomas Pfau
Contact Info:
Office Location:  312 Allen Bldg, Durham, NC 27708
Office Phone:  (919) 681-3098
Email Address:   send me a message
Web Page:

Office Hours:

Wednesdays 3:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. and by appointment.


  • Ph.D. State University of New York, Buffalo, 1989
  • M.A. University of California, Irvine, 1985
  • BA University of Constance, Germany, 1982

19th Century Literature
Critical Theory
Literary History & Criticism
Research Interests: 19th Century Literature; Romanticism

Thomas Pfau is the Alice Mary Baldwin Professor of English, with secondary appointments in Germanic Languages & Literatures and in the Duke Divinity School. A native of Germany, Prof. Pfau began his academic career in 1980 as a student of History and Literature at the University of Constance. In 1982, he came to the U.S. where, at UC-Irvine, he joined the Graduate Program in Comparative Literature and Theory. In 1985, he continued his studies in the Comparative Literature Program at SUNY-Buffalo where he received his Ph.D. in 1989 with a dissertation on self-consciousness in Romantic poetry and theory (Wordsworth, Shelley, et al.). Since then, his interests have gradually broadened to include topics in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century literature, philosophy, and intellectual history. Besides translating and editing two volumes of theoretical writings by Hölderlin and Schelling, he also edited three essay collections on English Romanticism, as well as special issues of South Atlantic Quarterly (1996) English Romantic Review ( 2010, 2011), and Modernist Cultures (2005). To date, he is the author of three monographs: Wordsworth's Profession (Stanford UP, 1997) Romantic Moods: Paranoia, Trauma, and Melancholy, 1794-1840 (Johns Hopkins UP, 2005) and Minding the Modern: Human Agency, Intellectual Traditions, and Responsible Knowledge (Notre Dame UP, 2013). He has published some thirty-five essays in numerous essay collections and scholarly journals on a wide range of writers, including Rousseau, A. Smith, Kant, Wordsworth, Wollstonecraft, Coleridge, Shelley, Goethe, Beethoven, Eichendorff, Schleiermacher, Thomas Mann, Walter Benjamin and other writers and philosophers.

Curriculum Vitae
Current Ph.D. Students   (Former Students)

  • Thomas Manganaro
Recent Publications   (More Publications)

  1. Pfau, T. "“Superabundant being”: Disambiguating Rilke and Heidegger." Modern Theology 35.1WILEY, (January, 2019): 23-42. [doi]  [abs]
  2. Wolfe, J; Pfau, T. "Philosophy and theology in Germany, 1918 to 1933: Editorial introduction." Modern Theology 35.1WILEY, (January, 2019): 3-4. [doi]
  3.  Judgment and Action Fragments toward a History.  Northwestern University Press, December 2017.
  4. Pfau, T. "On Attention." Salmagundi 194 (April, 2017): 145-163.
  5. Pfau, T. ""Botched execution" or historical inevitability: Conceptual dilemmas in Brad S. Gregory's the unintended reformation." Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies 46.3 (September, 2016): 603-628. [doi]

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