People / Faculty


Karen Feldman

Professor of German, Department Chair

Research Areas

Frankfurt School; German Idealism; Aesthetics; Literature and Philosophy; Intellectual History

5325 Dwinelle

Recent Courses

Nineteenth-century foundations of Critical Theory; Marx, Nietzsche, Freud; Moral Provocations: Job, Abraham, Moses; Luther, Kant, and Hegel


Professor Feldman received her B.A. at the University of Chicago in General Studies in the Humanities, and her Ph.D. at DePaul University in Philosophy. In 2000, she came to UC Berkeley’s Department of Rhetoric as a visiting assistant professor and joined the Department of German in 2007.

Feldman has been a Fulbright Scholar, an Alexander von Humboldt Fellow, a Hellman Family Faculty Award recipient, and a Townsend Center for the Humanities Fellow. She has been an invited researcher at the research cluster “Cultural Foundations of Europe” at the University of Konstanz, Germany; at the research program “Enlightenment, Religion, Knowledge” at the University of Halle, Germany; and at the Free University of Berlin. She has also received conference grants from the Townsend Center for the Humanities and the Center for Jewish Studies, as well as course development grants and course enhancement grants from L&S.

Feldman’s research occupies the intersection of philosophy and literary theory, reflecting a philosophical and literary-critical approach to classic texts of the German literary and philosophical canon, with a strong emphasis in Critical Theory. She has published on works by Gottsched, G.F. Meier, Kant, Nietzsche, Benjamin, Adorno, Heidegger, Koselleck, and Arendt; and on topics including the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the rhetoric of Marxism, Cold War effects on U.S. philosophy, and Heidegger and Critical Theory.

Feldman’s current research explores the representation of connections between events in literary, historical, and philosophical narratives. Events in a story can be seen as ordered according to proximate causation, which leads diachronically from one event to the next; and they can also be understood in view of the structure of the narrative as a whole – for instance in terms of the unity of plot. Her most recent book, Arts of Connection: Poetry, History, Epochality, argues that there exists an essential narrative tension between these two kinds of connection, by means of exemplary moments in Aristotle and classical German poetics, eighteenth-century philosophy of history, and twentieth-century phenomenology.

Selected Publications


  • Arts of Connection: Poetry, History, Epochality. Berlin: De Gruyter Verlag, 2019.
  • Binding Words: Conscience and Rhetoric in Hobbes, Hegel and Heidegger. Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 2006.

Edited volumes

  • Freud and Monotheism: Moses and the Violent Origins of Religion. Co-edited with Gilad Sharvit. NY: Fordham University Press, 2018.
  • Continental Philosophy: An Anthology. Co-edited with Will McNeill. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 1998.

Selected articles

  • “Foucault’s Concretions,” symploke1 (2022): 405-412.
  • “’Suddenly But Not Unprepared’: Narrating Novelty and Kant’s Story of Christianity,” in Kant and Literary Studies, Claudia Brodsky. NY: Cambridge University Press, 2021.
  • “The Aesthetics of Retrieval: Criticism and Romanticism in de Man and Heidegger,” in Das Politische des romantischen Dramas, ed. Christian Kirchmeier. Paderborn: Schöningh, 2019.
  • “’L’idée vient en parlant’: Kleist and Gadamer on Wheels,” Qui Parle 26.2 (December 2017): 330-333.
  • “Unexpected yet Connected: On Aristotle’s Poetics and its Heterodox Receptions,” in Inventing Agency: Essays on the Literary and Philosophical Production of the Modern Subject, eds. Claudia Brodsky and Eloy Labrada. London: Bloomsbury Press, 2017.
  • “Formal, Figural, and Historical: On the Limits of Argumentativity,” PMLA 2 (March 2016): 415-422.
  • “Marxism and the Frankfurt School: Rhetoric as Critique,” in Rhetorik und Philosophie, eds. Andreas Hetzel and Gerald Posselt. Berlin: De Gruyter, 2015.
  • “Not Dialectical Enough: On Benjamin, Adorno and Autonomous Critique,” Philosophy and Rhetoric 44.4 (2011): 336-362.


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Continental Philosophy: An Anthology
Binding Words
Freud and Monotheism