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. "The rhetoric of Romantic prophecy." COMPARATIVE LITERATURE 55.4 (2003): 360-363.

Pfau, T. "The Romantic performative: Language and action in British and German Romanticism." CRITICISM-A QUARTERLY FOR LITERATURE AND THE ARTS 44.1 (2002): 72-76. Full Text

Pfau, T. "The voice of critique: Aesthetic cognition after Kant." MODERN LANGUAGE QUARTERLY 60.3 (September 1999): 321-352. Full Text

Pfau, T. "Taming the chaos: English poetic diction theory since the Renaissance." MODERN LANGUAGE QUARTERLY 60.2 (June 1999): 265-267. Full Text

Pfau, T. "Politics, philosophy, and the production of romantic texts." STUDIES IN ROMANTICISM 38.4 (1999): 692-698. Full Text

Pfau, T. "Reading beyond Redemption: Historicism, Irony, and the Lessons of Romanticism." Ed. T Pfau and RF Gleckner. Critical Introduction to Lessons of Romanticism, Duke UP (1998): 1-37.