Richard Block (he/him/his)

Professor of German Studies

Contact Information

DEN 345
Office Hours
WF: 12:40-1:30 and by appt.


Ph.D., Northwestern, 1998
Curriculum Vitae (95.13 KB)

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 last project, "Echoes of a Queer Messianic:  From Frankenstein to Brokeback Mountain "(SUNY UP)" maps the potential for some form of queer love to escape, elide or become unidentifiable once the appartus of sexuality becomes, in many resepcts, 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.

My next  projects have their origins in a recently completed chapbook of poetry: AIDS. Remains   The first project seeks to revisit the questions anchored around issues of representation that first surface during the early stages of the disease.  Is what was contested then, now a site of consensus?  And what about those groups that remain in the shadows as most consider the disease to be managed and "under control"? A second project looks to document and understand the different kinds of memorials that surround AIDS—both public and underground.  How does one of the most detested groups at the time mourn its dead?  Finally, I am just published  an essay that examines Broadway’s response to AIDS, from the American-centric work of Tony Kushner to the imagined communities in Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods.  Finally, I am beginning a monograph as a follow-up to the last book, tentatively entitled "Communal Echoes of a Queer Messianic." The project considers how societies premised on Care or Sorge might replace those, like our own, based on credit and debt or guilt.  _The Florida Project_ is an example of the sorts of communities I am exploring.


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