Johannes Türk

Johannes Türk

Associate Professor, Germanic Studies and Comparative Literature

Director of the Institute of German Studies

Chair, Germanic Studies


  • Ph.D., Freie Universität Berlin

Fields of interest

  • literary theory
  • aesthetic theory
  • rhetoric
  • philosophy
  • the history of the German and the European novel
  • modernism
  • literature and life sciences (especially Immunology)
  • trauma and literature

About Johannes Türk

Johannes Türk holds appointments in the Departments of Germanic Studies and Comparative Literature. His research explores the intersection of literature, knowledge history, and philosophy. He also has a strong investment in psychoanalysis and in aesthetic theory. His work aims to understand the representations enabling human experience at the moment at which metaphysical certainties give way to the foundational openness associated with the contemporary world. He has studied at Freie Universität Berlin, Paris Vincennes-St. Denis, and Yale University. His book on immunity and literature, Die Immunität der Literatur, is concerned with the formation of immunological knowledge from Roman law to the biomedical sciences and its literary and cultural reflection showing that immunity is an important language in which literature has defined its place in human experience. Literature immunizes against disintegrating events. He has published on authors ranging from Dante, Freud, Goethe, Kafka, Kleist, Thomas Mann, Montaigne, Musil, Proust, Schiller, Stifter, and Carl Schmitt to Thucydides. Although he also researches other literary genres such as drama, his major interest lies in the novel as a form that shapes modern life. He is currently working on two book projects: homo immunis examines exemption as a gesture defining sovereignty and its iconography from Greek antiquity to the twentieth century. The second project investigates the relationship between legitimization and affect. In this project, insult as a resource for affects such as wrath and resentment plays a central role. He teaches a wide range of courses ranging from accident, catastrophe and trauma in literature and film to the theory and history of the novel, nostos and nostalgia in the European literary tradition, temporality in knowledge history and in the novel, eighteenth-century literature and thought, theatricality, as well as on literary theory.


  • Die Immunität der Literatur, Frankfurt am Main: S. Fischer 2011.
Edited volumes
  • "Figures and Figurations of the (Un-)Dead", Robert Buch/Johannes Türk (eds.), Special issue of Germanic Review, 82.2 (2007).
  • “Notstandserzählungen: Zu Immunität und epidemischer Krise in der Wissensgeschichte” Mitteilungen des Deutschen Germanistenverbandes 2/2021, pp. 164-174.
  • “Schiller and the Universal Lessons of Failure,” in: ed. Helge Jordheim and Hélène Merlin-Kajman, Universal History and the Making of the Global, New York: Routledge 2018, pp. 191-208.
  • "Unvergleichliche Ruhe. Franz Kafkas Protokollaufnahmen,” in: ed. Ute Holl, Claus Pias and Burkhardt Wolf, Gespenster des Wissens, Berlin und Zürich: diaphanes 2017, pp. 371-377.
  • "Health and illness,” in: Kafka in Context, Carolin Duttlinger (ed.), Cambridge University Press 2017.
  • “At the Limits of Rhetoric: authority, commonplace, and the role of literature in Carl Schmitt,” in: The Oxford Handbook of Carl Schmitt, Jens Meierhenrich and Oliver Simons (eds.), Oxford University Press 2016, pp. 751-775.
  • "Freunds Triebnarrative," in: Trieb. Poetiken und Politiken einer modernen Letztbegründung, Jan Niklas Howe and Kai Wiegand (eds.), Kulturverlag Kadmos 2014, pp. 189-202.
  • “Zur Begriffsgeschichte von Immunität,” in: Kulturen der Epigenetik: Vererbt, Codiert, Übertragen, Vanessa Lux and Jörg Thomas Richter, De Gruyter 2014, pp. 107-116.
  • "Approaching Death: Accident, Citation, and Singularity in Montaigne's De l'Exercitation," Yearbook of Comparative Literature 57 (2013), pp. 230-239.
  • "Elevation and Insight: Thomas Mann's Der Zauberberg," in: ed. Sean Ireton and Caroline Schaumann, Heights of Reflection. Mountains in the German Imaginatino from the Middle Ages to the Twenty-First Century, Camden House 2012, pp. 248-266.
  • "Jenseits des Mitleids. Techniken der Empathie 430 v. Ch. Bis 1930 n. Chr., in: Claudia Breger/Fritz Breithaupt (eds.), Empathie und Erzählung, Freiburg: Rombach 2010, pp. 85-106.
  • "Die Zukunft der Immunologie. Eine politische Form des 21. Jahrhunderts", in: Claus Pias (ed.), Abwehr. Modelle - Strategien – Medien, Bielefeld: transcript 2009, pp. 11-26.
  • "Interruptions: Scenes of Empathy from Aristotle to Proust", DVjS 82.3 (2008), pp. 448-476.
  • "The Intrusion: Carl Schmitt's Non-Mimetic Logic of Art", Telos 142 (Spring 2008), pp. 73-89.
  • "Homo immunis. Geburt und Topologie des Modernen Menschen in der Immunologie." In: Breger / Krüger-Fürhoff / Nusser (eds.), Engineering Life. Narrationen vom Menschen in Biomedizin, Kultur und Literatur, Berlin: Kulturverlag Kadmos, 2008, pp. 71-88.
  • "Zur immunologischen Funktion literarischer Komunikation", Soziale Systeme 13.1+2 (2007), pp. 317-328.
  • "Rituals of Dying, Burrows of Anxiety in Freud, Proust and Kafka. Prolegomena to a Critical Immunology," Germanic Review, 82.2 (Spring 2007), pp. 141-156.
  • "Introduction: Figures and Figurations of the (Un-) Dead", Germanic Review , 82.2 (Spring 2007), pp.115-21, with Robert Buch.
  • "Freuds Immunologien des Psychischen." Poetica 38.1-2 (2006), pp. 167-188.
  • "'Die Taktik der inneren Linie:' Performativity in Discourse on Trauma and in Robert Musil's Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften." Duttlinger, Carolin, Lucia Ruprecht, and Andrew Webber, eds. Performance and Performativity in German Cultural Studies. Oxford: Peter Lang, 2003, pp. 67-82.
  • Zeitungslektüre im "Mann ohne Eigenschaften", Musil-Studien Band 36, by Hermann Bernauer, Germanic Review 84.3 (Summer 2008), pp. 273-276.
  • The Juridical Unconscious, by Shoshana Felman. Poetica 35.3-4 (2003), pp. 459-465.
  • Trans. Vattimo, Gianni. "Begleitumstände." Derrrida, Jacques, and Gianni Vattimo, eds. Die Religion. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 2001, pp. 7-8.