John Hoffmeyer

John Hoffmeyer's picture
4th Year Graduate School Student

Pronouns: they/them/their


My research focuses on the possibility and practice of intermedial semiotic criticism between philosophy, literature, and music. In addition to media-theoretic approaches to this nexus, I am further interested in the political conditions of and implications for interdisciplinary humanistic scholarship, particularly pertaining to questions of: capitalist hyper-specialization of the academy; the constitution, processual modification, and afterlife of personal and metaphysical identity; the thematic of “passing” in the contexts of race, gender, class, and sexuality; academic gatekeeping of “expertise,” especially in connection with classist and white supremacist norms of linguistic competence; the reliance of university endowments on exploitative investment practices and the concomitant complacence of faculty and graduate students; and the relationship between narrativization and marketing of the self as a mode of participation in and reinforcement of capitalist hegemony.

My undergraduate thesis discussed parallel paradigm shifts in Romantic poetry and music with an emphasis on the dynamic relationship between theorization of forms of consciousness and the practical, compositional consciousness of forms. With support from the Carpenter Family Fund, I was able to conduct archival research on the Italian avant-garde composer Luigi Nono in connection with his experimental text-setting practices and the phenomenology of listening. This research later grounded an investigation, in my MPhil thesis, into convergent and divergent conceptions of what I termed the “caesuric mode” of poetic, philosophical, and musical composition in Friedrich Hölderlin, Walter Benjamin, and Nono.

In addition to my life as a student, I maintain an active performing career as a pianist. Earlier this year, I was a Young Artist at the PianoTexas International Festival. Later, I gave a recital on the renovated historical instrument of Czech-American composer and pianist Vera Polenova Kistler. This fall, I will appear as soloist with the Florence Symphony Orchestra in a performance of Rachmaninoff’s Concerto in c minor, Op. 18.

Research Interests

Musicology; Literary Historiography; Media Studies; Philosophy and Literature; Text-Music Relationships; Comparative Modernisms; Romance Aesthetics and Theory

Working Languages

Chinese (Modern), French, German, Italian, Japanese, Spanish

Education History

MPhil in Modern Languages and Literature, with distinction, University of Oxford

AB in Comparative Literature, summa cum laude, Princeton University

Publication Highlights

“The Architectonics of Hope: Fragmentation of Life and Text in Walter Benjamin and Hart Crane.” Publication forthcoming in Comparative Literature.

“A Sympathy with Death: Weimar Politics from Heidegger to Mann.” Publication forthcoming in New German Critique.

“Of Chess and Angels: On Borges’s Constructions of the Infinite.” Variaciones Borges vol. 51, 2021, pp. 79–99.

“Poetics of History, Logics of Collapse: On Heidegger’s Hölderlin.” The German Quarterly, vol. 93, no. 3, Special Issue: “The Long Nineteenth Century,” 2020, pp. 374–89.