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Sovereigns, Dogs, and other Creatures

General Programming

dateApril 26, 2023 timeWednesday, 5:30pm–7:00pm EDT location The Heyman Center, Second Floor Common Room, Columbia University
  • The Society of Fellows and Heyman Center for the Humanities
  • The Institute for Religion, Culture and Public Life
email address [email protected]
  • Free and open to the public
  • Registration required. See details.
Roman mosaic of a black dog on a leash

How does Kafka’s cynical story, "Researches of a Dog," intersect with Shakespeare’s sad stories of the death of kings? How does each author locate a kind of freedom at the point of a missing link in the constitution of the world presented in each text, a point where the sovereign and the creature encounter one another in, to use Paul Celan’s phrase, the majesty of the absurd?


Eric Santner is the Philip and Ida Romberg Distinguished Service Professor in Modern Germanic Studies at the University of Chicago. He came to Chicago in 1996 after twelve years of teaching at Princeton University. He has been a visiting fellow at various institutions, including Dartmouth, Washington University, Cornell, and the University of Konstanz. He works at the intersection of literature, philosophy, psychoanalysis, political theory, and religious thought. His books include Friedrich Hölderlin: Narrative Vigilance and the Poetic Imagination; Stranded Objects: Mourning, Memory, and Film in Postwar Germany; My Own Private Germany: Daniel Paul Schreber's Secret History of Modernity; On the Psychotheology of Everyday Life: Reflections on Freud and Rosenzweig; On Creaturely Life: Rilke, Benjamin, Sebald; The Neighbor: Three Inquiries in Political Theology (with Slavoj Zizek and Kenneth Reinhard); The Royal Remains: The People’s Two Bodies and the Endgames of Sovereignty; Untying Things Together: Philosophy, Literature, and a Life in Theory.

Image credit: Robin Dawes