MemberCarl Gelderloos

I am an assistant professor of German Studies in the Department of German and Russian Studies at Binghamton University (SUNY). In my research I explore topics related to the literature, culture, and thought of the Weimar Republic, German modernism, Philosophical Anthropology, photography, science fiction, and critical theory. A common theme of my scholarship is an interest in the ways in which writers grappled with concepts of modernity, modernization, and modernism. Broadly speaking, my methodology joins the close reading of literary, philosophical, and aesthetic texts to a consideration of the cultural, historical, rhetorical, and epistemic contexts they emerged from and shaped. To generalize, my research is driven by the concern that discursive, historical, and theoretical frameworks should be articulated from within the fine grain of these texts rather than assumed in advance and imposed on them from the outside. My book, Biological Modernism: The New Human in Weimar Culture (Northwestern UP, Dec. 2019), identifies an intellectual current in the Weimar Republic that drew on biology, organicism, vitalism, and other discourses associated with living nature in order to redefine the human being for a modern, technological age. Organicism—a discourse of wholeness that relies upon metaphors of the body and of living nature more generally—has long been identified with the political right in modern German culture and thought. From 19th-century vitalism to eugenics and the “blood and soil” ideology of the Nazi period, the investment of nature with spiritual meaning is often seen as an irrationalist, conservative reaction to the complex demands of modernity. In the face of rapid industrialization, the catastrophic experience of the First World War, and the social upheaval of the November Revolution, so the story goes, intellectuals who turned to images of nature did so to recover a supposedly lost unity. Yet such a narrative eclipses other uses to which organicism could be put; indeed, for many writers and intellectuals in the Weimar Republic, discourses such as organicism and vitalism, and natural sciences like biology, provided a way of theorizing modernity rather than fleeing from it. At Binghamton University I teach courses ranging from third-semester German to larger courses taught in English, which are frequently cross-listed in the departments of Art History, Cinema, Comparative Literature, English, and Philosophy. These courses cover diverse topics including 18th to 21st-century literature, visual culture and film, literary theory, and critical theory. My teaching aims to reflect both my education as a generalist in German and my expertise in specific areas of scholarly inquiry. Some of my favorite courses that I have designed and taught include “Learning to See: Art & Media in Weimar Germany,” “Introduction to Marx & Critical Theory,” “Staging Revolutions,” and “Cold War Science Fictions.”