John Zilcosky

Professor of Comparative Literature and German

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Bio & Research

I teach and write about modern European literature, psychoanalysis, trauma, the art of travel, and the history and philosophy of sports. My books include Kafka’s Travels: Exoticism, Colonialism, and the Traffic of Writing (2003, winner of the MLA’s Scaglione Prize), Writing Travel: The Poetics and Politics of the Modern Journey (2008), Uncanny Encounters: Literature, Psychoanalysis, and the End of Alterity (2016), The Allure of Sports in Western Culture (2019), and The Language of Trauma: War and Technology in Hoffmann, Freud, and Kafka (2021). Reviews of my work have appeared in publications such as the Times Literary Supplement and the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. I have received a Humboldt Foundation Research Fellowship, Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Grants, and a twelve-month National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship. I am honorary president of the International Comparative Literature Association’s Research Committee on Literary Theory, where I served as president from 2011 through 2014. In 2018, the German government awarded me the Friedrich-Wilhelm-Bessel Research Prize. I am presently at work on a cultural history of wrestling, from Plato to Hulk Hogan. For more information, see