Liliane Weissberg

Liliane Weissberg

Christopher H. Browne Distinguished Professor in the School of Arts and SciencesProfessor of German and Comparative Literature

(215) 898-7332

747 Williams Hall


Liliane Weissberg is Christopher H. Browne Distinguished Professor in Arts and Sciences and Professor of German and Comparative Literature. She is also a member of the Jewish Studies Program, the Art History Graduate Group, the English Graduate Group, the Program in Visual Studies, the Program in Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies, the Graduate Group in Religious Studies, the Ph.D. in Architecture, and the minor in Psychoanalytic Studies. Weissberg's interests focus on late eighteenth-century to early twentieth-century German literature and philosophy. Much of her work deals with German-Jewish Studies, but she has also written on the German Enlightenment, European and American Romanticism, German realism, and visual studies. Weissberg has taught as a visiting professor at universities in the United States, Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, and has held appointments as the Ernst Cassirer Professor in Philosophy at the University of Hamburg, the Kurt Brühl Professor in Jewish Studies at the University of Graz, and the Franz Rosenzweig Professor at the University of Kassel. Weissberg is the recipient of numerous awards, including the American ACLS, Fulbright, and Guggenheim Fellowships, the German Alexander von Humboldt Prize for her life's work, and the Berlin Prize, American Academy in Berlin, and a Senior Fellowship from the IFK in Vienna. She holds an honorary degree from the University of Graz.

Among her book publications are a critical edition of Hannah Arendt's Rahel Varnhagen: The Life of a Jewess (1997), Cultural Memory and the Construction of Identity (with Dan Ben-Amos, 1999), Romancing the Shadow: Poe and Race (with J. Gerald Kennedy, 2001), Hannah Arendt, Charlie Chaplin und die verborgene jüdische Tradition (2009), Affinität wider Willen? Hannah Arendt, Theodor W. Adorno und die Frankfurter Schule (2011), Über Haschisch und Kabbalah: Gershom Scholem, Siegfried Unseld und das Werk von Walter Benjamin (2012), and Writing with Photography (with Karen Beckman, 2013), (with Andreas Kilcher), Nachträglich, grundlegend: Der Kommentar als Denkform in der jüdischen Moderne von Hermann Cohen bis Jacques Derrida (with Andreas Kilcher, 2018), Münzen, Hände, Noten, Finger: Berliner Hofjuden und die Erfindung einer deutschen Musikkultur (2018), Benjamin Veitel Ephraim: Kaufmann, Schriftsteller, Geheimagent. Schriften (2021), and Psychoanalysis, Fatherhood, and the Modern Family (2021). Weissberg has also curated and co-curated art exhibitions, and contributed to various exhibition catalogues. She curated the exhibition Juden. Geld. Eine Vorstellung (2013) at the Jewish Museum in Frankfurt, and is the editor of its accompanying catalogue, and is a member of the scholarly board of the German Historical Museum Berlin.

Weissberg's courses have included seminars on turn of the century Vienna, on the Enlightenment, on realism, on psychoanalytic theory, and on political theory, for example: GRMN 580 "Walter Benjamin,” GRMN 612 “Hannah Arendt,” GRMN 540 "Memory, Trauma, Culture," GRMN 253 Freud: The Invention of Psychoanalysis,” GRMN2 37 Berlin: History, Politics, Culture,” and GRMN 242 "Ghosts, Spirits, and Machines.”

Watch Prof. Weissberg’s “Hannah Arendt sended Grüße an Walter Benjamin.” #closedbutopen, Literaturmuseum der Moderne Marbach, October 2020.

Listen to Prof. Weissberg and Prof. Michael Brenner discuss the 1918 Munich Revolution and Räterepublik at the Center for Advanced Studies Munich (2018).

Read all about, and listen to, Prof. Weissberg's introductory lecture for the Franz-Rosenzweig-Professur (2012) at the University of Kassel.

Listen to Prof. Weissberg's talk "Political Philosophy's Need for Literature" from the conference "Hannah Arendt and the Humanities: On the Relevance of Her Work Beyond the Realm of Politics" (Stanford, 2010).

Listen to Prof. Weissberg discuss Johann Gottfried Herder ("Lehrer, Prediger, Schriftsteller" on Bayerische Rundfunk's radioWissen. (2010)

Check out video from Prof. Weissberg's talk (among others) from the recent symposium "A Continuing Conversation: Moses Mendelssohn and the Legacy of the Enlightenment," held by the Center for Jewish History, NYC (2011).

Watch Prof. Weissberg's Sixty Second Lecture at Penn (from YouTube, 2005).

Listen to Prof. Weissberg discuss her exhibit "Juden. Geld. Eine Vorstellung" at the Jüdisches Museum in Frankfurt am Main with various German and American news outlets: 

Radio Interview with BR Bayern 2 "KulturWelt"


Penn's School of Arts and Sciences magazine "Frontiers"

Listen to Prof. Weissberg discuss August Strindberg’s Dance of Death in the session Die Macht der Geschlechter, Theaterfestival Wortwiege:

So 25.9. "Die Macht der Geschlechter"

Research Interests

18th - early 20th century literature, comparative literature, aesthetic theory, German-Jewish writing

Courses Taught
  • The Emergence of the Individual
  • Walter Benjamin
Selected Publications

Weissberg books 1Weissberg books 2Weissberg books 3Weissberg books 4


CV (file)