Richard Block

Associate Professor
Richard Block



My research interests, although broad by some standards, focus on the most basic of questions: what does it mean to read.  To that end, I am interested in how texts construct identity and how literature summons a kind of thinking that would otherwise be unavailable to thought.  So much for my theoretical interests.  My current project, “Echoes of a Queer Messianic:  From Frankenstein to Brokeback Mountain,”  maps the potential for some form of queer love to escape, elide or become unidentifiable once the apparatus of sexuality becomes, in many respects, the discipline of disciplines of our modernity. My first book, The Spell of Italy: Vacation, Magic and the Attraction of Goethe, examined Italy as a phantasmic space (phantasmic because it was modeled on the phantasm of ancient Greece) that gave rise to a canonical tradition.  My teaching interests tend to examine the intersections between literature and philosophy but always with an interest as to how that intersection has a distinctly historical character.  I frequently teach courses on Jewish-German relations, the Holocaust and ones that place philosophical, literary and cultural texts (including film) in dialogue with each other.  More recently, I have begun working with a cluster of colleagues in the Environmental Humanities.  My interest is animality, or more precisely, how we have come to be at war with our animal nature.


  • Northwestern, PhD,

Home Department

  • Germanics