Dominik Zechner’s research and teaching are informed by various fields and disciplines including (comparative) literature, philosophy, philology, political theory, theories of education, media studies, cultural analysis, and psychoanalysis.
His main current book project, The Violence of Reading, explores the various ways in which the experience of reading manifests as a source of pain. Drawing on structuralism, deconstruction psychoanalysis, and affect theory, the project investigates forms of “linguistic pain” (Scarry; Butler; Hamacher) and the limits of their literary representation. Analyzing the constitution and de-constitution of the reader’s body (Barthes), it actualizes the discourse around the “allegory of reading” (de Man) as one in which the act of reading appears as a negotiation and mediation of a kind of textual suffering. The project brings together diverse texts from various traditions and offers close examinations of the rhetoric of masochism (Sacher-Masoch; Deleuze), the relation between reading and abuse (Jelinek), the sublime as a linguistic phenomenon (Kant; de Man), and the “novel of the institution” (Musil; Campe).
Prof. Zechner has also widely published on 20th century German-speaking prose from Franz Kafka to Thomas Bernhard. Furthermore, he is the editor of a special issue of Modern Language Notes (“What is a Prize?” vol. 131.5, 2016), and the co-editor of Forces of Education: Walter Benjamin and the Politics of Pedagogy (Bloomsbury 2022), an essay collection dedicated to Walter Benjamin’s early writings on school reform and educational critique. Another essay collection on Paul Celan’s relationship with philosophy is currently scheduled to appear with SUNY Press in 2023. In addition, he is preparing a special issue of the journal Parallax titled “Initiations: The Pitfalls of Beginning,” dedicated to the problem of textual openings and first lines, also scheduled to appear in 2023.
Zechner’s wider research and teaching interests include: 19th and 20th century philosophy; German-speaking and comparative literature; literary theory and criticism; philosophy of language; philology, rhetoric, hermeneutics, and deconstruction; theories of pedagogy and pedagogical narratives; modern prose styles (Musil, Th. Mann, Doderer, Bernhard); postwar poetry (Celan, Brinkmann, Jandl); pop culture, pop music, pop literature; and contemporary literature. His research has appeared in differences, Journal of Romance Studies, Oxford Literary Review, The German Quarterly, The Yearbook of Comparative Literature, Translation & Literature, Triëdere, Zeitschrift für Literaturwissenschaft und Linguistik, and other venues.
Post-doctoral Research Fellowship, Pembroke Center, Brown University, 2019–20
Mellon Dissertation Fellowship in the Humanities, 2018–19
Teaching and Research Fellowship, Ludwig Maximilian University Munich, 2018
Young Scholars Prize, International Walter Benjamin Society, 2018
Outstanding Teaching Award, College of Arts and Science, NYU, 2016
Otto Mainzer Fellowship, Graduate School of Arts and Science, NYU, 2016
Joint Study Fellowship, University of Vienna/NYU Tisch School of the Arts, 2011–12
Forces of Education: Walter Benjamin and the Politics of Pedagogy, co-ed. Dennis Johannßen (London: Bloomsbury, 2023).
The Bestowal: What Is a Prize? MLN 131.5 (Comparative Literature Issue), December 2016.
“Editors’ Introduction,” co-authored with Dennis Johannßen, Forces of Education: Walter Benjamin and the Politics of Pedagogy (London: Bloomsbury, 2023), 1–14.
“Chronicle of Benjamin’s School and Student Years,” co-authored with Dennis Johannßen, Forces of Education: Walter Benjamin and the Politics of Pedagogy (London: Bloomsbury, 2023), 15–25.
“Sublime Sufferings: ‘Linguistic Pain’ and the Problem of Representation,” Journal of Romance Studies 22.4 (Winter 2022), 337–60.
“Sprache, mag sein,” Triëdere: Zeitschrift für Theorie, Literatur und Kunst 23 (2022), 49–60.
“Erinnerungsmomente in der Lyrik Brinkmanns,” The German Quarterly 95.1 (2022), 52–71.
“A Philology of Survival: Adorno, Benjamin, Hamacher,” Philosophy Today 66.1 (Winter 2022), 95–114.
“Rückkehr zur Philologie,” Zeitschrift für Literaturwissenschaft und Linguistik 51.4 (2021).
“The Promise of Oblivion: A Rhetorical Predicament in Sacher-Masoch, Nietzsche, and Beyond,” differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies 32.2 (Summer 2021), 94–121.
“Prothetische Körper,” Körperglossar, eds. Heidi Wilm, Gerhard Unterthurner, Timo Storck, Ulrike Kadi, and Artur Boelderl (Wien: Turia & Kant, 2021), 123–27.
“De-posing the Uncanny,” Oxford Literary Review 42.2 (Winter 2020), 314–18.
“The Phantom Erection: Freud’s Dora & Hysteria’s Unreadabilities,” Performing Hysteria: Contemporary Images and Imaginations of Hysteria, ed. Johanna Braun (Leuven: Leuven University Press, 2020), 87–102.
“Inventive Languages: Walter Benjamin, Ernst Jandl, And the Possibility of Back-Translation,” Translation & Literature 29.3 (2020), 317–37.
“Precarious Futures: Kafka’s Prose of Survival,” The Yearbook of Comparative Literature 63 (2020), 113–37.
“Ausstellen, Entsetzen: Thomas Bernhards Museumsroman Alte Meister,” Museales Erzählen: Dinge, Räume, Narrative, eds. Johanna Stapelfeldt, Ulrike Vedder, and Klaus Wiehl (München: Fink, 2020), 203–22.
“Kittler and Heidegger: The Trouble with Ent-fernung,” The Technological Introject: Friedrich Kittler between Implementation and the Incalculable, eds. Jeffrey Champlin and Antje Pfannkuchen (New York: Fordham, 2018), 123–36.
“The Prize-Bearers: A Brief Introduction,” MLN 131.5 (December 2016), 1155–63.
“Thomas Bernhard, Prizefighter,” MLN 131.5 (December 2016), 1218–35.
“Aporias of Survival: Kafka’s Alien Incursion,” Experimental Practices 1: Narrating Life – Experiments with Human and Animal Bodies in Literature, Science and Art, ed. Stefan Herbrechter and Elisabeth Friis (Leiden and Boston: Brill/Rodopi, 2015), 191–210.
“Rochelle Tobias, Pseudo-Memoirs: Life and Its Imitation in Modern Fiction,” Arcadia 57.2 (2022), 360–65.
“Sergej Taškenov, Thomas Bernhards Prosa: Krise der Sprache und des dialogischen Wortes,” Gegenwartsliteratur 19 (Oktober 2020), 417–19.
“Werner Hamacher, Sprachgerechtigkeit,” MLN 135.3 (April 2020), 802–5.
“Rosi Braidotti, The Posthuman,” rezenstfm.univie.ac.at (December 2013).
“Unter Einfluss” [“Under the Influence,” by Christopher Wood], Einfluss, Strörmung, Quelle: Aquatische Metaphern der Kunstgeschichte, eds. Ulrich Pfisterer and Christine Tauber (Bielefeld: transcript, 2019), 327–46.
“Lesen nach Freundschaft oder Wie ich zur Germanistin wurde – bevor sie mich rausschmissen und wieder reinließen” [“Reading for Friendship; or, How I became a Germanist before they kicked me out and let me back in,” by Avital Ronell], Lesen: Ein Handapparat, eds. Hans-Christian von Herrmann and Jeannie Moser (Frankfurt am Main: Klostermann, 2015), 99–110.
Reading, in Theory (Spring 2023)
Justice and Violence (Fall 2022)
Philosophy and the Event of Literature (Fall 2022)
What Was the University? (Spring 2022)
German Thought in the 20th Century (Fall 2021)
Amerikabilder (Fall 2021)
Echoes of the Kafkaesque (Spring 2021)
Margins of Philology (Spring 2021)
What is German? (Fall 2020)
Diskurspop (Fall 2020)