People / Faculty


Chenxi Tang

Professor of German

Research Areas

German literature and intellectual history from the seventeenth to the twentieth century, with an emphasis on classical-romantic literature and the philosophical thought of German Idealism; Law and Literature; Legal and Political Thought; Comparative Literature (mainly Western Europe)

5331 Dwinelle

Recent Courses

Aesthetic Theory; Law and Literature; Classical German Literature and Contemporary Criticism; German Romanticism; Tragedy and the Tragic; ; Literature and Political Thought; Goethe; Wagner and Nietzsche; Kafka



Professor Tang studied comparative literature, German literature, and philosophy at Peking University, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich (MA 1993), 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 two Mellon Foundation Research Grants. He currently serves on the editorial board of the PMLA. He has held visiting professorships at Free University and Humboldt University Berlin and currently holds a visiting professorship at Shanghai Normal University.

In his early research, 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 recent 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. In his current book project “The Aesthetic Constitution of International Law,” the scale of analysis shifts from the European to the planetary, concerned with the making of the planetary nomos in which we live today.

Based in German studies, Prof. Tang has been exploring ways of moving beyond conventional parameters for literary studies such as historical period and national language. He is active in the vibrant field of legal humanities, focusing especially on the theory and history of international law.

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)





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




  • „Literary Form and World Order in Goethe: From Iphigenie to Pandora“. Goethe Yearbook (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
  • “Re-imagining World Order: From International Law to Romantic Poetics”. Deutsche Vierteljahresschrift für Literaturwissenschaft und Geistesgeschichte 84 (2010), 526-579
  • “Tragedy of Popular Sovereignty: Hölderlin’s Der Tod des Empedokles”. Deutsche Vierteljahresschrift für Literaturwissenschaft und Geistesgeschichte 81 (2007), pp. 346-368
  • “Landschaft als Medium. Zur Sichtbarmachung der Natur in der chinesischen und europäischen Landschaftsmalerei um 1000 und um 1800”. Archiv für Mediengeschichte 7: Stadt – Land – Fluss. Medienlandschaften (2007), pp. 63-73.
  • “Kierkegaard and the Culture of Psychological Experimentation in the Nineteenth Century”. KulturPoetik: Zeitschrift für kulturwissenschaftliche Literaturwissenschaft / Journal For Cultural Poetics 6 (2006), 172-188.
  • “Rhetorik mit Akzent: Mündlichkeit, Schriftlichkeit und Rhetorik der Kulturbeschreibung bei Herder”. Rhetorik: Figuration und Performanz. Ed. Jürgen Fohrmann (Stuttgart: Metzler, 2004), 420-443
  • “Reading Europe, Writing China: European Literary Tradition and Chinese   Authorship in Yu Dafu’s Sinking”. Arcadia: Internationale Zeitschrift für Literaturwissenschaft/International Journal for Literary Studies 40 (2005),153-176 


The Geographic Imagination of Modernity