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Nicholas Rennie
Undergraduate Director
Associate Professor
Degree: Ph.D., Yale University
Email: nicholas.rennie@rutgers.edu
Office: 15 Seminary Place, Room 4124
Campus: College Avenue Campus
Office Hours: Wednesdays at 2pm, or by appointment


Research Interests:

Literature of the Englightenment and the Age of Goethe; modern aesthetics and intellectual history; the Frankfurt School; literary theory; German language.


Alexander von Humboldt Research Fellowship (2002-2003, 2007-2008)

Rutgers University School of Arts and Sciences Award for Distinguished Contributions to Undergraduate Education, in the category of Associate Professor (2007)



Currently working on a book project entitled Forbidding Images: Writing and the Visual in German Theory 1766/1939. This study argues that the work of G.E. Lessing and Sigmund Freud marks two key shifts in German literary culture's understanding of the relation between images and words.

Articles (selected):

Forthcoming: "Lessing's ,Lethotechnics': Memory and Perspective in the Laokoon," Lessing Yearbook/Jahrbuch 42 (2015).

“Höllenrachen: Performativität und Sichtbarwerden des Endes in Molières Don Juan oder Der steinerne Gast und Goethes Faust” [“Hell’s Maw: Performativity and Becoming-Visible of the End in Molière’s Don Juan or the Stone Guest and Goethe’s Faust”], book chapter in: Finis. Paradoxien des Endens [Finis: Paradoxes of Ending], ed. Burkhardt Lindner and Peter Brandes (Würzburg, Germany: Königshausen & Neumann, 2009) 17-33.

“Hier wird’s Eräugnis: Performativität und Ende in Goethes Faust” [“Here All Is Made Visible: Performativity and End in Goethe’s Faust”], book chapter in: Geistiger Handelsverkehr: Komparatistische Aspekte der Goethezeit [Intellectual Exchanges: Comparative Aspects of the Age of Goethe], ed. Anne Bohnenkamp and Matías Martínez (Göttingen, Germany: Wallstein, 2008) 395-410.

“Cock and Bull Cosmologies: Reading the Post-Enlightenment Universe,” Writers Reading Writers: Intertextual Studies in Medieval and Early Modern Literature in Honor of Robert Hollander, ed. Janet Levarie Smarr (Crankbury, N.J.: University of Delaware Press, 2007) 225-245.

“‘Schilderungssucht’ and ‘historische Krankheit’: Lessing, Nietzsche, and the Body Historical,” The German Quarterly 74:2 (Spring 2001) 186-196.

“Between Pascal and Mallarmé: Faust’s Speculative Moment,” Comparative Literature: Journal of the American Comparative Literature Association 52:4 (Fall 2000) 269-290; a modified version of this article appears in the book collection Goethe, Chaos, and Complexity, ed. Herbert Rowland (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2001) 117-33.

“Laokoon,” article for Encyclopedia of German Literature, vol. 2 (Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers: Chicago, 2000), 646-647.

“Ut Pictura Historia: Goethe’s Historical Imagination and the Augenblick,” Goethe Yearbook 8 (1996) 120-41.

“Benjamin and Zola: Narrative, the Individual, and Crowds in an Age of Mass Production,” Comparative Literature Studies 33:4 (1996) 396-413. 

Recent Courses Taught at Rutgers:


Lessing and the Reinvention of Literature (Fall 2013)
Forbidding Images (Fall 2012)
The Frankfurt School (Fall 2011)
Goethe's Faust (Spring 2010)


Bargaining with the Devil (Fall 2013, Fall 2010)
Masters of German Drama (Spring 2013, Fall 2009)
The Big Bang: Literature of Chaos and Order (Fall 2012, Fall 2009)
Honors Seminar: Wise Fools (Spring 2012)
Marx, Nietzsche, Freud (Spring 2012, Spring 2010)
Modern German Poetry (Fall 2010)