Christian Benne

European Literature and Intellectual History, Kopenhagen
Fellowship: 01.09.2014–28.02.2015; 01.09.2018–28.02.2019


Christian Benne studied in Leipzig, Edinburgh and Berlin in the 1990s. He graduated from the Humboldt University in Berlin and received his PhD in comparative literature from the Peter Szondi-Institute at the Freie Universität Berlin. He has taught German and comparative literature, intellectual history and philosophy, cultural history, and European studies in Denmark (where he was tenured at the University of Southern Denmark in Odense in 2005) and, as a guest, around the world. In 2015, he accepted a position as professor of European literature and intellectual history at Copenhagen University. He has been a visiting scholar, fellow or guest professor at Stanford, in Chicago, Heidelberg, Cologne and Tokyo. He regularly works as a reviewer for a number of leading journals, for ERC grants and for the DFG. He co-edits 'Orbis Litterarum' and, as of 2018, the 'Athenäum'. He is the deputy director of the Nietzsche Foundation and a board member of the Friedrich Schlegel Gesellschaft.

Fields of Research

Literature and philosophy; literary and media theory; modern manuscripts; book history; Nietzsche; Early romanticism; scepticism; autobiographical and autofictional writing

Project outline

(Re-)presentation and expression: The aesthetic idea in morpomatic theory design and constructions of the 'self'.

The project is twofold and concerns both the theoretical framework of Morphomata and the specific topic of (auto-) biography and portraiture. On the basis of my previous involvement with Morphomata as a Fellow I would first like to complete a long discussion about the reconstruction of Kant’s notion of the aesthetic idea and its function for the theory and practice of the morphomatic approach. Philosophical and literary interpretations of the third critique have so far overlooked the fact that Kant uses two different notions of the aesthetic idea. They have also overlooked the important distinction between its representation (Darstellung) and its expression (Ausdruck). By putting both at the centre of my revaluation, I can not only solve a number of misunderstandings and apparent contradictions, but also demonstrate the centrality of the aesthetic idea(s) for any “morphomatic” theory. In a second part, I wish to exemplify my new understanding of the aesthetic idea by analysing auto-genealogical and auto-narrative constructions of the self, which gained prominence in both literature and philosophy in the aftermath of the demise of the strong subject.

Publications (Selection)

„Ecce Hanswurst – Ecce Hamlet: Rollenspiele in Ecce Homo“, in: Nietzscheforschung 12 (2005a), 219-228.

„Berührungsfeste. Canettis Kindheitserinnerungen wiedergelesen“, in: Weimarer Beiträge 51:2 (2005b), S. 206-218.

„Autobiographie und moderne Lyrik. Vorüberlegungen am Beispiel Peter Huchels“, in: Jahrbuch der Deutschen Schillergesellschaft 50 (2006), 410-438.

„Autofiktion und Maskerade: Robert Walsers Ästhetik des Biographieverzichts“, in: Christian Benne/Thomas Gürber (Hg.), «...andersteils sich in fremden Gegenden umschauend»: Schweizerische und dänische Annäherungen an Robert Walser, Kopenhagen/München, 2007a, 32-53.

„Was ist Autofiktion? Paul Nizons 'erinnerte Gegenwart»“, in: Christoph Parry/Edgar Platen (Hg.), Autobiographisches Schreiben in der deutschsprachigen Gegenwartsliteratur , Bd. 2: Grenzen der Fiktionalität und der Erinnerung, München 2007b, 293-303.

„Den Minotauros schreiben: autobiographische Tauromachien bei Leiris und Nietzsche“, in: Martin Stingelin/Clemens Pornschlegel (Hg.), Nietzsche und Frankreich, Berlin/New York, 2009, 175-192.

(Hg. mit Enrico Müller), Ohnmacht des Subjekts – Macht der Persönlichkeit, Basel 2014.

„Voxentunge. Bemærkninger til en debut“, in: Marianne Larsen/Moritz Schramm (Hg.), Mine drømme har en anden virkelighed. Charlotte Inuk og hendes forfatterskab, Odense, 2015, 54-58.

„Ich, Maske, Autofiktion“ , in: Lucas Marco Gisi (Hg.), Robert Walser-Handbuch, Stuttgart 2016.

„Sich sich selber erzählen“, in: Christian Benne/Dieter Burdorf (Hg.), Rudolf Borchardt und Friedrich Nietzsche. Schreiben und Denken im Zeichen der Philologie, Berlin 2017 (Schriften der Rudolf Borchardt-Gesellschaft, vol. 14), 95-112.