Paul Fleming

L. Sanford and Jo Mills Reis Professor of Humanities


Professor of Comparative Literature and German Studies as well as the Taylor Family Director of the Society for the Humanities, Paul Fleming has published monographs on Exemplarity and Mediocrity: The Art of the Average from Bourgeois Tragedy to Realism (2009) and The Pleasures of Abandonment: Jean Paul and the Life of Humor (2006) along with edited volumes on Hans Blumenberg, Siegfried Kracauer, the scholars around Stefan George, and Ulrich Peltzer. His translation of Peter Szondi’s Essay on the Tragic appeared in 2002 and of Hans Blumenberg’s Care Crosses the River in 2010. He is currently co-translating Blumenberg’s The Saint Matthew Passion for Cornell Press as well as completing a book-length project that examines the use of the anecdote in and as theory with respect to questions of exemplarity, evidence, history, and rhetoric.

Fleming’s teaching and research interests include eighteenth and nineteenth century German and European literature, especially the novel; aesthetics and hermeneutics from 1750 to the present; Critical Theory; the relation between narration and knowledge. He is co-editor of the book series Paradigms: Literature & the Human Sciences in de Gruyter Press as well as of the series Manhattan Manuscripts in Wallstein Press. He serves on the boards of Cornell’s Signale book series, diacritics, and New German Critique.

Office Hours
By appointment




  • Exemplarity and Mediocrity: The Art of the Average from Bourgeois Tragedy to Realism (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2009).
  • The Pleasures of Abandonment: Jean Paul and the Life of Humor (Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann, 2006). 

Book Translations

  • Hans Blumenberg, Care Crosses the River (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2010)
  • Peter Szondi, An Essay on the Tragic (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2002).

Selected Articles

  • "Vom Kasus zum Fall: Heyses 'Auf Tod und Leben' und Storms 'Ein Bekenntnis'." In: Wirklichkeit und Wahrenhmung: Neue Perspektiven auf Theodor Storm. Zeitschrift für Germanistik, Neue Folge, Bd. 27. eds. E. Strowick and U. Vedder (forthcoming 2013).
  • "Bodies. Ernst H. Kantorowicz." In Escape to Life. German Intellectuals in New York. A Compendium on Exile after 1933, eds. Eckart Goebel and Sigrid Weigel, Berlin/New York: Walter de Gruyter (2012).
  • "On the Edge of Non-Contingency: Lifeworld and Ancedotes," a special Telos issue on Hans Blumenberg, vol 158 (Spring 2012) pp. 21-35.
  • “Kannitverstan: The Contingent Understanding of Anecdotes.” In Oxford German Studies (Special Issue on Johann Peter Hebel) vol. 40 (1), 2011, pp. 72-81.
  • “The Perfect Story: Anecdote and Exemplarity in Linnaeus and Blumenberg.” In Thesis 11 (Special issue on Hans Blumenberg) vol. 104 (1), 2011, pp.72-86.
  • “Dream Chamber: Poe, Baudelaire, Benjamin.” In Zeitschrift für deutsche Philologie, 4/2010, pp. 579-92.
  • “Dead Men Walking: Zu Canettis Die Befristeten.” In Der Überlebende und sein Doppel: Kulturwissenschaftliche Analysen zum Werk Elias Canettis, ed. Susanne Lüdemann. Freiburg: Rombach, 2008, pp. 127-43.
  • “The Promises of Childhood: Autobiography in Goethe and Jean Paul.” In Goethe-Yearbook, vol. 14 (2007), pp. 27-37.
  • “Forgetting – Faust: Adorno and Kommerell.” In Adorno and Literature, eds. David Cunningham and Nigel Mapp. London: Continuum, 2006, pp. 133-44.
  • “Die üblichen Verdächtigen. Das Bild des Kriminellen bei Quetelet und Galton.” In Intellektuelle Anschauung. Figurationen von Evidenz zwischen Kunst und Wissen, eds. Sibylle Peters and Martin Schäfer. Bielefeld: transcript Verlag, 2006, pp. 225-38.
  • “The Secret Adorno.” In Qui Parle 15.2 (Fall 2005), pp. 97-114.
  • “June 10, 1796: An Alien Fallen from the Moon.” In The New History of German Literature, eds. David Wellbery et al. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2004, pp. 465-70.
  • “Die Moderne ohne Kunst: Max Kommerells Gattungspoetik in Jean Paul.” In Max Kommerell: Leben – Werk – Aktualität, eds. Walter Busch and Gerhart Pickerodt. Göttingen: Wallstein, 2003, pp. 54-73.
  • “Das Gesetz: Hölderlin und die Not der Ruhe.” In Hölderlin-Jahrbuch (2000/01), pp. 273-92.
  • “The Crisis of Art: Max Kommerell and Jean Paul’s Gestures.” In Modern Language Notes, vol. 115, no. 3 (2000), pp. 519-43.

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