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. "Immediacy and the Text: Friedrich Schleiermacher’s Theory of Style and Interpretation." Journal of the History of Ideas 51 (1990): 51-73.

Pfau, T. "Review of Edwin Stein’s Woodworth’s Art of Illusion." Studies in Romanticism 29 (1990): 496-99. (Review)

Pfau, T. "Review of Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe and Jean Luc Nancy’s The Literary Absolute." Studies in Romanticism 29 (1990): 309-13. (Review)

Pfau, T. "Review of Wordsworth's Art of Allusion by Edward Stein." Studies in Romanticism 29 (1990): 496-499. (Review)

Pfau, T. "Rhetoric and the Existential: Romantic Studies and the Question of the Subject." Studies in Romanticism 26 (1987): 487-512.

Pfau, T. "Review of Andrej Warminski’s Readings in Interpretation: Holderlin, Hegel, and Heidegger." MLN (Comparative Literature Issue) 102 (1987): 1212-15. (Review)