Faculty and Staff

Constantin Behler

Associate Professor

B.A. Comparative History of Ideas, University of Washington
Ph.D. German Studies and Humanities, Stanford University

Office: UW1-340
Phone: 425-352-5373
Email: cbehler@uw.edu
Mailing: Box 358530, 18115 Campus Way NE, Bothell, WA 98011-8246



In our Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences program I try to deliver humanities courses in the best sense of the word. These are not occasions to train future professors of literature, philosophy, or history, but to allow students to exercise their minds, to sharpen their critical faculties, and to learn how to ask and explore relevant questions when confronted with unique and often highly complex objects of study. Humanities instruction has to rest on a solid interdisciplinary orientation and should delineate its relevance in terms of the larger cultural and personal significance of its inquiries, as well as to make use of its unique subject matters in order to exercise generally applicable practices of critical thinking, analysis, and communication. As such it also needs to be genuinely multicultural and international in orientation, providing a unique and singularly effective training ground for the respectful encounter of difference and the broadening of our human horizons.

Recent Courses Taught

BIS 354 Modern European Intellectual History
BIS 393 Special Topics: Exploring Narrative Forms
BIS 452 Marx, Nietzsche, Freud
BIS 460 Topics in Critical Theory: Observing Cinema
BIS 474 Topics in European Cultural History: Germany's Weimar Republic
BISCLA 360 Literature, Film & Consumer Culture


My earlier scholarship focuses mainly on the important period of German intellectual life of the later 18th and early 19th century, with publications on such figures as Humboldt, Schiller, Schlegel, and Kleist that are theoretically indebted to the work of Michel Foucault. More recently I have focused on identifying and describing a distinctly German cultural-intellectual tradition, the dominant expressions and transformations of which can be traced particularly well in the public reception of the poet-philosopher Friedrich Schiller during the 19th and 20th century. The book I am writing is entitled "The Schiller Celebrations as Rituals of a German Ideology" and is to appear in time for the bicentennial commemorations of Schiller's death in 2005. In terms of my main theoretical orientation I have become a fan of the sociologist and system-theoretician Niklas Luhmann, an English introduction to whose work I am working on with the title: "Observing Cinema-Luhmann and the Cybernetics of Film."

Selected Publications

"Humboldts 'radikale Reflexion uber die Sprache' im Lichte der Foucaultschen Diskursanalyse," In Deutsche Vierteljahrsschrift fur Literaturwissenschaft und Geistesgeschichte, Nr. 63 (1989) Heft 1.

"Eine unsichtbare und unbegreifliche Gewalt' Kleist, Schiller, de Man und die Ideologie der Asthetik," In ATHENAUM. Jahrbuch fur Romantik. Paderborn: Schoningh, 1992.

Nostalgic Teleology: Friedrich Schiller and the Schemata of Aesthetic Humanism. Stanford German Studies. Bern: Peter Lang, 1995.