John T. Hamilton

John T. Hamilton

William R. Kenan Professor of German and Comparative Literature
John T. Hamilton

Research Fields: Hermeneutics and Poetics of the Classical Tradition; Music and Language; 18th – 19th century German and French Literature; New Comparative Philology.

Education:  Ph.D., New York University, 1999 

Professor Hamilton has held previous teaching positions in Comparative Literature and German at Harvard and New York University, with visiting professorships in Classics at the University of California-Santa Cruz and at Bristol University's Institute of Greece, Rome and the Classical Tradition. In 2005 - 06 he was a resident fellow at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin. Since 1995, he has been actively involved with the Leibniz-Kreis, a working group originally based in Heidelberg, which is devoted to the "Afterlife of Antiquity."

Together with Eckart Goebel (NYU) and Paul Fleming (Cornell), he serves as an editor of the "Manhattan Manuscripts" series, published by the Wallstein Verlag in Göttingen.

With Almut-Barbara Renger (Berlin) and Jon Solomon (Urbana-Champaign), he edits a series with Brill in Leiden: “Metaforms: Studies in the Reception of Classical Antiquity

Current book projects include: Literature on Trial: Kafka and the Genealogy of French Theory; and The Culture of Convenience.

Soliciting Darkness: Pindar, Obscurity, and the Classical Tradition. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2003.

Music, Madness, and the Unworking of Language (Columbia, 2008) [German translation: Musik, Wahnsinn und das Außerkraftsetzen der Sprache, trans. Andrea Dortmann, (Göttingen, 2011).

Security: Politics, Humanity, and the Philology of Care (Princeton, 2013)

Philology of the Flesh (Chicago, 2018)

Über die Selbstgefälligkeit (Berlin, 2021)

Complacency: Classics and its Displacement in Higher Education (Chicago, 2022)


Selected Works:

  • "Ovids Echographie" in Narziss und Eros. Bild oder Text? E.Goebel, ed. (Göttingen, 2009), 18–40.
  • "Music on Location: Rhythm, Resonance, and Romanticism in Eichendorff’s Marmorbild," Modern Language Quarterly 70 (2009), 195–221.
  • "Die Erziehung des Teufels: Über Hoffmanns Berganza -Novelle," Hölderlin-Jahrbuch 36 (2009), 75–84.
  • "Philology and Music in the Work of Pascal Quignard,"Studies in Twentieth- and Twenty-first-Century Literature 33 (2009), 43–67.
  • “Repetitio Sententiarum, Repetitio Verborum: Kant, Hamann, and the Implications of Citation,” German Quarterly 87:3 (2014), 297–312.
  • “Ellipses of World Literature,” Poetica 46 (2014), 1–16
  • “Gambara de Balzac, ou Le Chef-d’œuvre ‘inentendu’: pour une esthétique noétique,” in Théories de la littérature: nouveaux éléments de vocabulaire, Emmanuel Bouju, ed. (Rennes, 2015).
  • Carmina carnis: Der rote Ursprung der lebendigen Sprache bei Hölderlin” in Körper/Zeichen, Sophie Witt, ed. Special edition of figurationen: gender – literatur – kultur 19:2 (2018)
  • “Aspects of Reception: Reading Goethe’s Iphigenie auf Tauris with Adorno, Fassbinder, and Jauss,” Classical Receptions Journal 12 (2020), 129–148.
  • “Florilegia: Influence and Cross-Pollination between Celan and Hölderlin, Pindar and Horace,” Modern Language Notes 135 (2020), 600–619.
  • “Fiat claritas et pereat opus: Equity, Ethics, and the Limits of Rectification in Kleist's Michael Kohlhaas,” in Heinrich von Kleist: Literary and Philosophical Paradigms, J. High, R. Stewart, and E. Chen, ed. Rochester: Camden House, 2021

You can find copies of most of Professor John Hamilton's work on this website.

Contact Information

Office: Barker Center 345
p: 617-496-4272
Office Hours: Fall 2022: TBD