Professor Jennifer Gosetti-Ferencei BA, MA, MFA, MSt, PhD, DPhil

Photograph of Professor Jennifer Gosetti-Ferencei

Department of Modern Languages
Professor of German and Comparative Literature

Contact details

Ashley Building, Room 310
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

As Professor of German and Comparative Literature, I specialize in literary modernism, theory and philosophy of literature, and aesthetics. I have taught and written on a wide range of topics, often drawing on the intersections among modern literature, Continental philosophy, and visual art.


  • DPhil, Modern Languages and Literatures (German), University of Oxford
  • MSt (European Literature), University of Oxford
  • MFA, Columbia University (Poetry)
  • PhD, Villanova University (Philosophy)
  • MA, Villanova University (Philosophy)


My study and research have drawn from several disciplines and have been interdisciplinary in nature. My graduate studies in Philosophy, for which I earned the MA and PhD at Villanova University in Pennsylvania, were rooted in the history of philosophy and Continental philosophy of the 19th and 20th centuries, and culminated in a dissertation that drew on the intersections between German philosophy and poetry. Poetic practice was the focus of my MFA in creative writing, at Columbia University in New York.  With my academic career in philosophy underway, I turned to the study of literature at Oxford, first for the MSt in European Literature at St. Catherine's College, with a special interest in Rilke and French theories of literary space, and, as Clarendon Scholar at St. John’s College, for the DPhil in Modern Languages and Literatures (German). There my dissertation focused on the exoticization of place and space, and the relation of the self and the foreign other, in the prose of German modernism from 1890-1930. In addition to these themes, I have worked on other aspects of modernism that involve visual art, the experience of the city, theories of perception and imagination, everydayness, and the connections between literary description and phenomenology. I join Birmingham having taught for some years as Professor of Philosophy at Fordham University in New York City, with previous teaching at Bryn Mawr College, Pennsylvania, Oxford University, and the University of Maine. I have been involved with research groups such as the Balzan Foundation Project ‘Literature as an Object of Knowledge’ and the History of Distributed Cognition Project, and have been Visiting Research Associate at the Research Centre at St. John’s College, Oxford.


I teach specialist modules on German Literary Modernism, having taught many courses on topics including: 19th Century Continental philosophy; 20th Continental philosophy; The City in Modern Literature; Philosophy of Literature; German Poetry, Prose, and Drama; Aesthetics; and Theories of Modernity.

Postgraduate supervision

I have supervised doctoral theses on a wide range of topics and welcome applications from PhD students in any areas of my research, including the following:

  • Literary modernism, especially modern German literature and thought
  • Poetry and poetics
  • Space and place in literature and art
  • The everyday, the ecstatic, the exotic in literature
  • Aesthetics, theory or philosophy of literature
  • Cognitive literary theory
  • Imagination or perception in literature
  • Continental philosophy


My research interests include: literary modernism, especially Rilke, Stevens, and Kafka, Continental philosophy, including German and French phenomenology and existentialism, Hölderlin, imagination, cognitive literary theory, aesthetics, modernist painting, theories of space and place.  Current research projects include monographs on the literary imagination and on existentialism.



  • Exotic Spaces in German Modernism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011).
  • The Ecstatic Quotidian: Phenomenological Sightings in Modern Art and Literature (University Park: Penn State University Press, 2007). American Library Association Choice Award, Outstanding Academic Title.
  • Heidegger, Hölderlin, and the Subject of Poetic Language (New York: Fordham University Press, 2004).
  • After the Palace Burns. Poems. (Lincoln, NE: Zoo Press, 2004). The Paris Review Prize in Poetry.
  • (translation): Martin Heidegger, Phenomenology of Religious Life, trans. Fritsch and Gosetti-Ferencei (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2004).

Journal Articles and Book Chapters

  • “Radnoti, Blanchot, and the (Un)writing of Disaster,” Comparative Literature and Culture 17.2 (June 2015).
  • “The Mimetic Dimension: Literature Between Neuroscience and Phenomenology,’ British Journal of Aesthetics, vol. 54, no. 4 (October 2014).
  • “The Tragic Dimension in Modern German Painting,’ A Companion to Tragedy in German Literature, Art, and Thought, ed. Stephen Dowden and Thomas Quinn (Rochester, NY: Camden House, 2014).
  • “Death and Authenticity: Reflections on Heidegger, Rilke, Blanchot,” Existenz, 9:1 (Spring 2014).
  • “The World and Image of Poetic Language: Heidegger and Blanchot,” Continental Philosophy Review 45:2 (2012).
  • “Writing in Philosophy and the Literature and Philosophy of Writing (Plato, [Thomas] Mann, Blanchot)’ in Philosophy, Literature, and the Crisis of Metaphysics, ed. Sébastian Hüsch (Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann, 2011).
  • “Immanent Transcendence in Rilke and Stevens,” The German Quarterly 83:3 (Summer 2010).
  • “The Poetics of World: Sources of Poetic Theory in Heidegger’s Phenomenology of Religious Life,” in A Companion to Heidegger’s Phenomenology of Religious Life, ed. Andre Wiercinski and Sean McGrath (Rodopi Press, 2010).
  • “Foreshadowings of the Kafkaesque in Alfred Kubin’s Drawings,” Hyperion: On the Future of Aesthetics vol. III, no. 4 (December 2008).
  • “Interstitial Space in Rilke’s Short Prose Works,” The German Quarterly 80:3 (Summer 2007).
  • “The Poetics of Thinking: Heidegger and Hölderlin,” in Literature and Philosophy: A Guide to the Contemporary Debates, ed. David Rudrum, (New York: Palgrave/Macmillan, 2007).
  • “Between Animality and Intellection: Phenomenology of the Child-Consciousness in Proust and Merleau-Ponty,” Analecta Husserliana: The Yearbook of Phenomenological Research vol. 93 (2007).
  • “Language and The Flesh of Being: Merleau-Ponty and Kristeva,” in Interrogating Ethics: Essays on Merleau-Ponty, edited by James Hatley (Pittsburgh: Duquesne University Press, 2006).
  • “Articulate Spontaneity and the Aesthetic Imagination,” Analecta Husserliana: The Yearbook of Phenomenological Research, vol. 92 (2006).
  • “Moral Sentiment and the Ethics of Representation in Holocaust Literature,” Analecta Husserliana: the Yearbook of Phenomenological Research, vol. 84 (2006).
  • “Trompe l’Oeil and the Mimetic Tradition in Aesthetics,” Analecta Husserliana: The Yearbook of Phenomenological Research, vol. 87 (2006).
  • “Confirmations of Life in a Phenomenology of the Poetic Image,” Analecta Husserliana: The Yearbook of Phenomenological Research, vol. 83 (2004).
  • “The Aesthetic and the Poetic Image: Beyond the Ekphrastic Divide,” Philosophy Today, vol. 29 (Summer 2003).
  • “Phenomenology of the Mysterious: A Reading of Rilke’s Sonnets to Orpheus,” Phenomenological Inquiry vol. 26 (Fall 2002).
  • “Ash in the Clouds: Unearthing Goethe,” in Literary Imagination: Review of the Association of Literary Scholars and Critics, 4:3 (2002).
  • “Tragedy and Truth in Heidegger and Jaspers,” International Philosophical Quarterly 42:3 (Fall 2002).
  • “Phenomenological Literature: From the Natural Attitude to ‘Recognition,’” Philosophy Today, vol. 45 (Summer 2001).
  • “The Ecstatic Quotidian: Literary Phenomenology in Sartre and Rilke,” Journal of the Association of the Interdisciplinary Study of the Arts, 7:1 (2001).
  • “Figures of the Feminine in Heidegger’s Theory of Poetic Language,” in Feminist Interpretations of Heidegger, edited by Patricia J. Huntington and Nancy Holland (College Park: The Pennsylvania State University Press, 2001).
  • “Revolutions in Language: Hölderlin to Kristeva,” International Studies in Philosophy, XXXII:1 (1999).
  • “Language and Subject in Heidegger and Kristeva,” Philosophy Today (SPEP supplement, vol. 43, 1999).
  • “The Poetic Politics of Dwelling: Hölderlin, Kant, Heidegger,” International Studies in Philosophy, XXXI: 1 (1998).