Russell Berman

Russell Berman

Russell A. Berman is Professor of German Studies and Comparative Literature and Walter A. Haas Professor in the Humanities at Stanford University, and a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution.


Born in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1950, he received his B.A., magna cum laude from Harvard University in 1972, and he completed a doctorate at Washington University in 1979. During his time in Saint Louis, he became associated with the journal TELOS and its founding editor, Paul Piccone. Since 1979 he has been on the faculty at Stanford University, where he is currently the chair of the comparative literature department.

His work involves problems of cultural modernity, building on the paradigms of Critical Theory but nuanced through the political and cultural-theoretical debates of recent decades. While his scholarship has paid particular attention to literature and politics in Germany of the nineteenth and twentieth century, his writing quickly developed a wider scope (and he has been chair of the Department of Comparative Literature at Stanford). His initial work addressed problems of the emergence of a commercial mass culture and the role of literary criticism within it. He subsequently explored the transformation of the novel as genre through the lens of social theory drawing on key categories from Max Weber, as well as the Frankfurt School. During the 1980s and 1990s he participated in many of the key debate of literary and cultural theory, during a period when it was common to contrast "German theory" with "French theory." Berman rejected that binary opposition, while also pursuing a critical-theoretical analysis of the paradigm of postmodernism. His study of German colonial brought the model of the dialectic of enlightenment to bear on the cultural discourses around the emergence of the nineteenth-century German Empire in Africa and the Pacific. His recent work explores long-term civilizational processes and the status of literature within them. He has also actively engaged in political debates, most recently around the Iraq War and European anti-Americanism. In 2004, he became the editor of the journal TELOS.


*"Fiction Sets You Free: On Literature In History" (Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2007)

*"Anti-Americanism in Europe: A Cultural Problem" (Stanford, CA: Hoover Institution Press, 2004)

*"Enlightenment or Empire: Colonial Discourse in German Culture" (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1998) - Outstanding Book in German Studies Award of the German Studies Association, 2000.

*"Cultural Studies of Modern Germany: History, Representation, and Nationhood" (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1993)

*"Modern Culture and Critical Theory: Art, Politics, and the Legacy of the Frankfurt School" (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1989)

*"The Rise of the Modern German Novel: Crisis and Charisma" (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1986) - Outstanding Book in German Studies Award of the German Studies Association, 1988.

*"Between Fontane and Tucholsky: Literary Criticism and the Public Sphere in Imperial Germany" (New York: Lang, 1983)

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