Thomas Pfau

Office Hours: 

Tuesday 2:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. & by appointment.

Alice Mary Baldwin Professor of English

External Address: 
312 Allen Bldg, Durham, NC 27708
Internal Office Address: 
Duke Box 90015, Durham, NC 27708-0015
(919) 681-3098

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.


  • Ph.D., State University of New York at Buffalo 1989
  • M.A., University of California at Irvine 1985

Pfau, T. "Nineteenth-Century Lyric German Poetry." Camden House History of German Literature, volume 9. Ed. C Koelb and E Downing. 2005. 201-242. (Essay)

Pfau, T. "Rationality as Bewegung: From Kantian Autonomy to Hegel’s Self-Regulating System." The Blackwell Companion to European Romanticism. Ed. M Ferber. London: Blackwell, 2005. (Essay)

Pfau, T. "From Autonomous Subjects to Self-Regulating Structures: Rationality and Development in German Idealism." in "A Companion to European Romanticism". Ed. M Ferber. Blackwell, 2004. (Essay)

Pfau, T. "Nachtigallenwahnsinn and Rabbinismus: Heine’s Literary Provocation to German-Jewish Cultural Identity." Romantic Poetry: Comparative History of Literatures in European Languages. Ed. A Esterhammer. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2002. 427-44. (Essay)

Pfau, T. "Paranoian Historicized: Legal Fantasy, Social Change, and Satiric Meta-Commentary in the 1794 Treason Trials." Romanticism, Radicalism, and the Press. Ed. SC Behrendt. Detroit: Wayne State UP, 1997.

Pfau, T. "Paranoia Historicized: Legal Fantasy, Social Change, and Satiric Meta-Commentary in the 1794 Treason Trials." Romanticism, Radicalism, and the Press. Ed. SC Behrendt. Wayne State University Press, 1997. (Essay)

Pfau, T. "Immediacy and Dissolution: Reflections on Moral Theory and the Logic of Critical Discourse." Intersections: Nineteenth-Century Philosophy and Contemporary Theory. Ed. T Rajan and D Clark. Albany: State U of New York P, 1995. (Essay)


Pfau, T. "Shadowing the Lyric: Tilottama Rajan Reads Romantic Narrative." The Eighteenth Century 54.4 (2013): 565-569. Full Text

Pfau, T. "Wordsworth and the Poetry of What We Are." MODERN PHILOLOGY 108.3 (February 2011): E191-E194. Full Text

Pfau, T. "Review of Paul Fry, Wordsworth and the Poetry of What We Are." Modern Philology 108 (2011): 191-94. (Review)

Pfau, T. "Rethinking the image: With some reflections on G. M. Hopkins." Yearbook of Comparative Literature 57 (January 1, 2011): 117-147.

Pfau, T, and Mitchell, R. "European Romantic Review: Introduction." European Romantic Review 21.5 (October 1, 2010): 545-551. Full Text

Pfau, T. "Bildungsspiele: Vicissitudes of socialization in Wilhelm Meister's apprenticeship." European Romantic Review 21.5 (October 1, 2010): 567-587. (Review) Full Text

Mitchell, R, and Pfau, T. "“Romanticism and Form” special issue." European Romantic Review 21.5 (2010).