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

Benjamin & Adorno; 18th Century Theories of Language; Formalism and Historicism


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. She has been Associate Professor of German since 2011.

Feldman was a Fulbright Scholar (1997-1998), an Alexander von Humboldt Fellow (2010-2011), and a Hellman Family Faculty Award recipient (2009). She was an invited researcher at the research cluster “Cultural Foundations of Europe” at the University of Konstanz, Germany (Summer 2012) and at the research program “Enlightenment, Religion, Knowledge” at the University of Halle, Germany (May-June 2013). 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.

Her 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 since 2011 produced publications on a wide range of topics and covering 300 years, including Gottsched, G.F. Meier, Kant, Nietzsche, Benjamin, Adorno, Heidegger, Arendt, and Cold War effects on U.S. philosophy.

Her 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 book manuscript Arts of Connection: Poetry, History, Epochality, which will be published by De Gruyter, 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, forthcoming.
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

“Arendt’s Kantian Imperative,” in Kant and Literary Studies, ed. Claudia Brodsky. NY: Cambridge University Press, forthcoming in 2019.
“The Aesthetics of Retrieval: Criticism and Romanticism in de Man and Heidegger,” in Das Politische des romantischen Dramas, ed. Christian Kirchmeier. Paderborn: Schöningh, forthcoming in 2019.
“’Cognitio pulchra sive aesthetica’: On Narrative Temporalization and Historische Erkenntnis between Kant and Meier,” forthcoming in The New Enlightenment, eds. Hans Adler and Rüdiger Campe. Rochester: Camden House, forthcoming.
“’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 131.2 (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.


Continental Philosophy: An Anthology
Binding Words
Freud and Monotheism