Carol Jacobs

Carol Jacobs's picture
Birgit Baldwin Professor Emeritus of German and Professor Emeritus of Comparative Literature
100 Wall St, New Haven, CT 06511-6607
+1 (203) 432-0711


Carol Jacobs, Birgit Baldwin Professor of Comparative Literature and Professor of German Literature, received her Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins in Comparative Literature. Before teaching at Yale she taught as professor of Comparative Literature and English at SUNY Buffalo, and as professor of German at Johns Hopkins and NYU. She teaches literary, philosophical and theoretical texts that range from the eighteenth to the twentieth century. She has written on Lessing, Kleist, Nietzsche, Benjamin, Rilke, Sophocles, Plato, and the English Romantics, among others. Her early books (The Dissimulating HarmonyUncontainable Romanticism) explore theories of authorship and authority, both literary and political, and their relation to issues of language, truth and knowledge. More recently she has written on representation and time in relation to narrative (Telling Time), and on the writings of Walter Benjamin (In the Language of Walter Benjamin). Skirting the Ethical (Stanford University Press, 2008) is a meditation on the relationship between language and ethics that considers texts from classical Greek to contemporary cinema (Sophocles, Plato, Hamann, Sebald, Campion). Her new book, Sebald’s Vision recently appeared with Columbia University Press. She has been the recipient of the Guggenheim Fellowship, the ACLS, and has been a fellow at the Internationales Kolleg Morphomata, University of Cologne, among other awards.


Ph.D. in Comparative Literature, Humanities Center, The Johns Hopkins University, 1974.

Research Interests

German, English, and French literature of the 18th–20th centuries; literary theory of the 18th–20th centuries; film.

Publication Highlights

Wuthering Heights: “On the Threshold of Interpretation,” in the Norton Critical Edition‑‑Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights, eds. William M. Sale and Richard Dunn (New York: Norton, 1990).

“Playing Jane Campion’s Piano: Politically,” in Modern Language Notes, vol. 109,  December 1994, pp. 757-85.  [JSTOR]

“Dusting Antigone” (on Hegel, Irigaray, and Sophocles), Modern Language Notes, December 1996, Volume II, no. 5, pp. 889-917. [JSTOR]

“What Does it Mean to Count?: W. G. Sebald’s The Emigrants,” Modern Language Notes, December 2004.

“The Passion for Talk,” in The Norton Critical Edition of Ford Madox Ford, The Good Soldier, ed. Martin Stannard, (New York: W.W. Norton, 1995).

“The Monstrosity of Translation,” reprinted in Deconstruction: Critical Concepts, ed. Jonathan Culler, Routledge, 2002.

“Walter Benjamin: Image of Proust” reprinted in Walter Benjamin: Critical Evaluations in Cultural Theory, ed. Peter Osborne (New York: Routledge, 2004).

“Reading, Writing, Hatching (On Sebald’s Austerlitz)” in What Does the Veil Know?, ed. Eva Meyer and Vivian Liska (Zurich: Voldemeer) 2009, 130-43.

“Daniel Kehlmann’s Fame: Eight Subjects for Reflection and an Afterword” in Literator 2010. Dozentur für Weltliteratur (Wilhelm Fink Verlag 2012) 205-225.

Research Interests: 
Critical Theory and Philosophy
English and Anglophone Literature
Literary Theory
Romance Languages
Working Languages: