Stefani Engelstein

Office Hours: 

Mon.   1:00p.m.  -  2:00p.m.
& by appointment

Stefani Engelstein

Professor of German Studies

External Address: 
German Studies Department, Campus Box 90256, Durham, NC 27708
Internal Office Address: 
German Studies Department, 116C Old Chem, Durham, NC 27708
(919) 660-3173

Stefani Engelstein’s research explores German and British literature, philosophy, and the life and human sciences in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Her newest project, Living Things, Human Beings: The Entanglements of the Organism, unites interests in epistemology and anatomy to consider the complicated boundaries of the organism and their implications for social institutions in Romanticism and Idealism.  Engelstein’s most recent book, Sibling Action: The Genealogical Structure of Modernity (Columbia University Press, 2017), investigated the genealogical sciences in the long nineteenth century.  Genealogies were developed to organize many historical systems and in the process transformed contemporary terms in such systems – whether languages, races, nations, species, or subjects – into siblings of varying degrees.  As a link between epistemology and affect, the sibling is a key to both knowledge-systems and identity politics that destabilizes genealogies from within.  Engelstein’s first book, Anxious Anatomy: The Conception of the Human Form in Literary and Naturalist Discourse (SUNY, 2008), explored theories of reproduction and healing at the turn of the nineteenth century.  It traced the concept of teleology at the root of the new discipline of biology to reveal its transformation from an explanatory principle in new epigenetic theories of inheritance to a rationalization for legitimating ideologies through the body. Engelstein also co-edited the anthology, Contemplating Violence: Critical Studies in Modern German Culture (Rodopi 2011) and her work has appeared in such journals as Critical Inquiry, the PMLA, the German Studies Review, the Goethe Yearbook, and Philosophy Today.


  • Ph.D., The University of Chicago 2001
  • B.A., Yale University 1992

Engelstein, Stefani. Sibling Action: The Genealogical Structure of Modernity. Vol. 94, Informa UK Limited, 2019, pp. 258–60. Crossref, doi:10.1080/00168890.2018.1552344. Full Text

Engelstein, S., and C. Niekerk, editors. Contemplating Violence Critical Studies in Modern German Culture. Rodopi, 2011.

Engelstein, S. B. “Coining a Discipline: Lessing, Reimarus, and a Science of Religion.” Fact and Fiction Literary and Scientific Cultures in Germany and Britain, edited by C. Lehleiter, University of Toronto Press, 2016, pp. 221–46.

Engelstein, Stefani. The Father in Fatherland: Violent Ideology and Corporeal Paternity in Kleist. Edited by S. Engelstein and C. Niekerk, vol. 79, EDITIONS RODOPI B V, 2009, pp. 49–66.

Engelstein, Stefani, and Carl Niekerk. Introduction. Violence, Culture, Aesthetics: Germany 1789-1938. Edited by S. Engelstein and C. Niekerk, vol. 79, EDITIONS RODOPI B V, 2009, pp. 13-+.

Engelstein, S. B. “Reproductive Machines in E.T.A. Hoffmann.” Body Dialectics in the Age of Goethe, Rodopi, 2003, pp. 169–93.

Engelstein, S. “Schelling’s Uncanny Organism.” Artful Designs: The Automata and Hidden Machinery of Global Romanticism, edited by Christopher Clason and Michael Demson.

Engelstein, Stefani. “Sexual division and the new mythology: Goethe and Schelling.History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences, vol. 42, no. 3, Aug. 2020, p. 39. Epmc, doi:10.1007/s40656-020-00331-0. Full Text

Engelstein, S. “Letter to the editors.” History of Humanities, vol. 4, no. 2, Sept. 2019, pp. 519–20. Scopus, doi:10.1086/704878. Full Text

Engelstein, S. “Friedrich Schlegel (1772–1829): Inaugurating literary criticism as a social process.” History of Humanities, vol. 4, no. 2, Sept. 2019, pp. 247–50. Scopus, doi:10.1086/704810. Full Text

Engelstein, S. “Love or Knowledge: Sexual Epistemology in Fichte and Kleist.” Germanic Review, vol. 92, no. 4, Oct. 2017, pp. 368–87. Scopus, doi:10.1080/00168890.2017.1370949. Full Text

Engelstein, S. “Geschwister und Geschwisterlichkeit in der Epistemologie der Moderne.” L’Homme: European Journal of Feminist History, edited by M. Hohkamp et al., vol. 68, no. 2, 2017, pp. 49–68.

Engelstein, S. “On Respect and Meaning: Reply to Cynthia L. Hallen.” Critical Inquiry, vol. 41, no. 2, Jan. 2015, pp. 451–57. Manual, doi:10.1086/679085. Full Text

Engelstein, S. “The allure of wholeness: The eighteenth-century organism and the same-sex marriage debate.” Critical Inquiry, vol. 39, no. 4, June 2013, pp. 754–76. Scopus, doi:10.1086/671355. Full Text

Engelstein, S. “Sibling logic; or, antigone again.” Pmla, vol. 126, no. 1, Jan. 2011, pp. 38–54. Scopus, doi:10.1632/pmla.2011.126.1.38. Full Text

Engelstein, S. “Civic Attachments & Sibling Attractions: The Shadows of Fraternity.” Goethe Yearbook, vol. 18, no. 1, 2011, pp. 205–21. Manual, doi:10.1353/gyr.2011.0469. Full Text

Engelstein, S. “The Open Wound of Beauty: Kafka Reading Kleist (Franz Kafka, Heinrich von Kleist).” Germanic Review, vol. 81, no. 4, 2006, pp. 340–59.