People / Faculty


Chenxi Tang

Professor of German

Research Areas

German literature and thought from the seventeenth to the twentieth century; Comparative study of European and Chinese literature and thought; Law and Literature; Political Thought

5331 Dwinelle

Recent Courses

Graduate: German Romanticism; What is German? Visions of Community in Literature and Thought; The Ecological Imagination in German Literature and Thought; German Literature and Thought in the Pluriverse

Undergraduate:  Goethe; Kafka; Law and Literature; What is Asia?; Ideas of the West; Great Books of World Civilizations


Professor Tang studied comparative literature, German literature, and philosophy at Fudan University Shanghai, Peking University, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich, and Columbia University (PhD 2000). He taught at the University of Chicago before joining the Berkeley faculty in 2007. He is a recipient of numerous awards, including Alexander von Humboldt Research Fellowship, UC President’s Faculty Research Fellowship, and Research Fellowship of Hamburg Institute for Advanced Studies.

In the early phase of his research career, Tang was interested in the roles played by German literature and thought in the self-understanding and self-positioning of Europe in the world. His dissertation Writing World History: The Emergence of Modern Global Consciousness in the Late Eighteenth Century (Columbia University 2000) and monograph The Geographic Imagination of Modernity: Geography, Literature and Philosophy in German Romanticism (Stanford UP 2008) study the ways in which Europe created a temporal-spatial framework for itself in the classical-romantic period of German literature and philosophy.

His book Imagining World Order: Literature and International Law in Early Modern Europe, 1500-1800 (Cornell UP 2018) expands the scale of analysis from German to European, examining the imaginative work performed by literature in establishing an international world order in early modern Europe.

Based in German Studies, Prof. Tang has been exploring ways of moving beyond conventional parameters for humanistic studies such as historical period and national language. He is active in the vibrant fields of legal humanities, global intellectual history, and comparative study of China and the West. He is currently completing a new book titled Two Worlds: Ideas of the West vs. Ideas of China Across Time, a comparative intellectual history ranging from the Axial Age to the geopolitical reconfiguration of the world in the present.


Selected publications


  • The Geographic Imagination of Modernity: Geography, Literature and Philosophy in German Romanticism (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2008)
  • Imagining World Order: Literature and International Law in Early Modern Europe, 1500-1800 (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2018)
  • Two Worlds: The Idea of Europe and the West v. The Idea of China (in progress)



  • Søren Kierkegaard, Begrebet Ironi, translated from Danish into Chinese (Beijing: Chinese Social Sciences Press, 2005) = Collected Works of Kierkegaard in Chinese, vol. 1.

Selected Articles Since 2010

  • “Narratives of Foundation in Rome and Han China: Visions of Imperial World Order Compared”, forthcoming
  • “Clash of Diplomatic Cultures Between Europe and China Around 1800: A Rereading of the Macartney Mission.” Diplomatica 6 (2024), 100-128
  • “Singularly German in the Pluriverse.” New German Critique 150 (2023), 193-204
  • (together with Colleen Glenney Boggs), Introduction to “Poetics of Fact, Politics of Fact.” PMLA 134 (2019), 1109-1114
  • “Making Facts, Using Facts: Two Poetics of the Factual and One Theory of the Political.” PMLA 134 (2019), 1165-1172
  • “Literary Form and World Order in Goethe: From Iphigenie to Pandora.” Goethe Yearbook 26 (2018), 183 -201
  • “Legal Realism and Literary Realism.” In Veronika Thanner, Joseph Vogl, and Dorothea Walzer (eds). Wirklichkeit des Realismus (Munich: Fink, 2017), 85-95
  • “International Legal Order and Baroque Tragic Play: Andreas Gryphius’s Catharina von Georgien.”  Deutsche Vierteljahresschrift fuer Literaturwissenschaft und Geistesgeschichte 88 (2014), 141-171
  • “Ceremonial and Tragedy from French Classicism to German Classicism.” Comparative Literature 66 (2014), 277-300
  • “The Transformation of the Law of Nations and the Reinvention of the Novella: Legal History and Literary Innovation from Boccaccio’s Decameron to Goethe’s Unterhaltungen deutscher Ausgewanderten.” Goethe Yearbook 19 (2012), 67-92
  • “Theatralische Inszenierung der Weltordnung. Völkerrecht, Zeremonialwissenschaft und Schillers Maria Stuart.” Jahrbuch der deutschen Schillergesellschaft 55 (2011), 142-168
  • “Die Tragödie der Zivilisation. Völkerrecht und Ästhetik des Tragischen im 19. Jahrhundert.” Forum Vormärz-Forschung Jahrbuch 17 (2011), 87-136


The Geographic Imagination of Modernity