Peter Fenves, Joan and Sarepta Harrison Professor of Literature, is professor of German, Comparative Literary Studies, and Jewish Studies as well as adjunct professor of Philosophy, Political Science and English. He is the author of A Peculiar Fate: Metaphysics and World-History in Kant (Cornell University Press, 1991), "Chatter": Language and History in Kierkegaard (Stanford University Press, 1993), Arresting Language: From Leibniz to Benjamin (Stanford University Press, 2001), and Late Kant: Towards Another Law of the Earth (Routledge, 2003), which was translated into German in 2010; and most recently The Messianic Reduction: Walter Benjamin and the Shape of Time (Stanford University Press, 2010), which includes the first English translations of two texts Benjamin wrote under the title of "The Rainbow."
Professor Fenves is also the editor of Raising the Tone of Philosophy: Late Essays by Kant, Transformative Critique by Derrida (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1993), the co-editor of "The Spirit of Poesy": Essays on Jewish and German Literature and Philosophy in Honor of Géza von Molnár (Northwestern University Press, 2000), and the translator of Werner Hamacher's Premises: Literature and Philosophy from Kant to Celan (Harvard University Press, 1996). In addition, he provided an extensive introduction to a new English edition of Max Brod's impressive novel, Tycho Brahe's Path to God (Northwestern University Press, 2006).
Professor Fenves has written numerous articles on a variety of topics. His essays on German literature include "Continuing the Fiction: From Leibniz' 'petite fable' to Kafka's In der Strafkolonie," MLN 116 (2001); "Die Scham der Schönheit: einige Bemerkungen zu Stifter," in "Geteilte Aufmerksamkeit": Zur Frage des Lesens, ed. Thomas Schestag; "Johann Christian Friedrich Hölderlin," in The Encyclopedia of Aesthetics, ed. Michael Kelly; "Measure for Measure: Hölderlin and the Place of Philosophy," in The Solid Letter: New Readings of Friedrich Hölderlin, ed. Aris Fioretos; "'Workforce Without Possessions: Kafka, 'Social Justice," and the Word Religion," in Freedom and Confinement in Modernity: Kafka's Cages, ed. Kiarina Kordela.
Among his essays and articles on German philosophy are "Marx's Doctoral Thesis on Two Greek Atomists and the Post-Kantian Interpretations," The Journal of the History of Ideas 46 (1986); "Image and Chatter: Adorno's Construction of Kierkegaard," Diacritics 22 (1992); "The Revelation of Irony: The Young Kierkegaard Listens to the Old Schelling," in International Kierkegaard Commentary: "The Concept of Irony," ed. Robert Perkins; "Language on a Holy Day: Mendelssohn and the Temporality of Language in Jerusalem," in Perspectives on Early Modern and Modern Intellectual History, ed. Joseph Marino and Melinda Schlitt; "What is Aufklärung (in Pennsylvania)?" in American Babel: Literatures of the United States from Abnaki to Zuni, ed. Marc Shell; "Imagining an Inundation of Australians; or Leibniz on the Principles of Grace and Race," in Race and Modern Philosophy, ed. Andrew Valls; and "Martin Heidegger," in Blackwell Encyclopedia of Literary and Cultural Theory, ed. Michael Ryan and Gregory Castle.
His essays on contemporary critical thought include "From Empiricism to the Experience of Freedom," Paragraph 16 (1993); "Marx, Mourning, Messianicity," in Violence, Identity, and Self-Determination, ed. Samuel Weber and Hent de Vries; "Derrida and History: Some Questions Derrida Pursues in his Early Writings," in Jacques Derrida and the Humanities: A Critical Reader, ed. Tom Cohen; "Alterity and Identity, Postmodern Theories of," in The Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, ed. Edward Craig; "Technica Speciosa: Some Notes on the Ambivalence of Technics in Kant and Weber," in Experimenting: Essays with Samuel Weber, ed. Simon Wortham and Gary Hall; "The Courage of the Critic: Avital Ronell and the Idea of Emergence," in Reading Ronell, ed. Diane Davis; and "Toward another Teichology," in Babel: für Werner Hamacher, ed. Aris Fioritos.
Professor Fenves has written extensively on Walter Benjamin beyond his recent book, including "The Genesis of Judgment: Spatiality, Analogy, and Metaphor in Benjamin's 'On Language as Such and on Human Language,'" in Walter Benjamin: Theoretical Questions, ed. David Ferris; "Die Unterlassung der Übersetzung," in Übersetzen: Walter Benjamin, ed. Christiaan L. Hart-Nibbrig; "Of Philosophical Style—From Leibniz to Benjamin," Boundary 2 30 (spring, 2003); "Is There an Answer to the Aestheticizing of the Political?" in Actualities of Aura, ed. Erik Steinskog and Dag Petersson; "Über das Programm der kommenden Philosophie," in Benjamin-Handbuch, ed. Burkhardt Lindner; "Um Worte Verlegen: Zur Benjamins gegenhistorischen Lektüre Hölderlins," in Walter Benjamin und die romantische Moderne, ed. Günter Oesterle and Heinz Brüggemann; and "A Concept in Combat with Itself: Benjamin, Hölderlin, and 'Temporal Plasticity,'" PMLA 124 (January 2009).
Professor Fenves received his PhD from the Johns Hopkins University (1989) and has taught at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, the Johns Hopkins University, Princeton University, and Harvard University in addition to Northwestern.