People / Faculty

Niklaus Largier

Niklaus Largier

Professor of German and Comparative Literature

Research Areas

Medieval Literature; Literature and religion; History of the Imagination; Literature, sensation and emotions; Aesthetics

5412 Dwinelle

Recent Courses

Image and Imagination: Baroque and Cyberspace; Alien Worlds in Medieval Literature; Mysticism—Medieval and Modern; Religion, Imagination, and Ascetic Practices; The Sacred


After studying German Literature, Philosophy, and Russian in Zurich and Paris, Professor Largier received his Ph.D. from the University of Zurich in 1989. He is the recipient of a Swiss National Research Foundation Grant (1993/96), of a Fellowship in residence at the Getty Center for the History of Art and the Humanities (1992/93), and of a Guggenheim Fellowship (2004). He joined the Berkeley faculty in 2000 and has a joint appointment with Comparative Literature.

From 2001 until 2004 Largier was the director of UC Berkeley’s Program in Medieval Studies; from 2003 until 2006 the director of the Program in Religious Studies; and from 2006 until 2013 the chair of the Department of German. He is also involved in the Designated Emphasis in Critical Theory, the D.E. in Renaissance and Early Modern Studies, and the Berkeley Center for New Media. Largier is a member of the editorial board of the journal Representations, and of the book series New Trends in Medieval Philology and Deutsche Literatur von den Anfängen bis 1700.

Largier was a Visiting Professor at Harvard University (2006), at the University of Konstanz (2013), and at Princeton University (2016); a fellow at the Wissenschaftskolleg in Berlin (2010-11), and at the Kolleg-Forschergruppe BildEvidenz (2014). In 2015, Largier received the Anneliese Maier Research Award from the Humboldt Foundation.

Largier’s current research and teaching focuses on the history of the imagination and the emotions; and on the history of the senses and of the production of sense experience from the Middle Ages to the Modern era. Niklaus Largier is an expert on mystical traditions in German literature and thought, in particular Meister Eckhart and his influence. He is working on two projects: a book on imagination, practices of figuration, and notions of possibility, tentatively entitled “Figures of Possibility;” and a book on the history of practices and the poetics of prayer (with David Marno).

Selected publications


Meister Eckhart, Werke: Vol. 1: Texte und Übersetzungen von Josef Quint. Ed. and commentary by Niklaus Largier. Vol. 2: Texte und Übersetzungen von Josef Quint, Ernst Benz, Karl Christ, Bruno Decker, Heribert Fischer, Bernhard Geyer, Josef Koch, Konrad Weiss und Albert Zimmermann. Ed. and commentary by Niklaus Largier (Bibliothek deutscher Klassiker. Bibliothek des Mittelalters, vols. 20 and 21). Frankfurt a. M.: Deutscher Klassiker Verlag, 1993.

Diogenes der Kyniker: Exemplum, Erzählung, Geschichte im Mittelalter und in der Frühen Neuzeit. Mit einem Essay zur Figur des Diogenes zwischen Kynismus, Narrentum und postmoderner Kritik (Frühe Neuzeit, vol. 36). Tübingen: Niemeyer Verlag, 1997.

Lob der Peitsche. Eine Kulturgeschichte der Erregung. München: C. H. Beck, 2001. American translation: In Praise of the Whip: A Cultural History of Arousal. Cambridge MA: MIT Press (Zone Books), 2007.

Die Kunst des Begehrens. Dekadenz, Sinnlichkeit und Askese. München: C. H. Beck, 2007.

Zeit der Möglichkeit. Robert Musil, Georg Lukács und die Kunst des Essays. Hannover: Wehrhahn, 2016.

Spekulative Sinnlichkeit. Kontemplation und Spekulation im Mittelalter. Zürich: Chronos, 2018.


“Mysticism, Modernity, and the Invention of Aesthetic Experience.” Representations 105 (2009), p. 37-60.

“The Plasticity of the Soul: Mystical Darkness, Touch, and Aesthetic Experience.” Modern Language Notes 125 (2010), p. 536–551.

“Figure, Plasticity, Affect.” In: Touching and Being Touched. Kinestesia and Empathy in Dance and Movement. Eds. Gabriele Brandstetter, Gerko Egert, and Sabine Zubarik. Berlin and Boston: De Gruyter, 2013, p. 23-34.

“The Art of Prayer: Conversions of Interiority and Exteriority in Medieval Contemplative Practice.” In: Rethinking Emotion. Interiority and Exteriority in Premodern, Modern, and Contemporary Thought. Eds. Rüdiger Campe and Julia Weber. Berlin and Boston: de Gruyter, 2014, p. 58-71.

“The Rhetoric of Mysticism: From Contemplative Practice to Aesthetic Experiment.” In: Mysticism and Reform, 1400-1700. Eds. Sarah Poor and Nigel Smith. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 2015, p. 353-379.

“Bare Figure. The Poetics of the Image in Late Medieval Mysticism.” In: Image and Incarnation: The Early Modern Doctrine of the Pictorial Image. Eds. Lee Palmer Wandel and Walter S. Melion. Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2015, p. 173-186.


Bibliographie zu Meister Eckhart
Lob der Peitsche
Das Buch von der geistigen Armut
Diogenes der Kyniker
In Praise of the Whip
Die Kunst des Begehrens