Sara Guyer

Position title: Dorothy Draheim Professor of English


7165 Helen C. White Hall

British and continental romanticism, critical theory, and holocaust studies
Sara Guyer

Degrees and Institutions

  • PhD, Rhetoric, UC-Berkeley, 2001
  • MA, Rhetoric, UC-Berkeley, 1999
  • MA, Philosophy and Literature, University of Warwick, 1996
  • BA, English and American Literature, Brandeis University, 1994

Selected Publications


Special Issue

  • Guest Co-Editor (with Steven Miller), Special Issue of Diacritics, “Literature and the Right to Marriage” 35: 4 (2005). Contributors: Branka Arsic, Will Bishop, Peter Fenves, Susannah Young-Ah Gottlieb, and J. Hillis Miller.

Articles and Book Chapters

  • “Rwanda’s Bones.” Boundary 2 35: 3 (Fall 2008). 33 ms pp. Reprinted in Jane Kilby and Antony Rowland, eds. The Future of Memory (Berghahn Books, 2009).
  • “Before The Human Race: Robert Antelme’s Anthropomorphic Poetry.” Critical Survey. Special Issue on “Holocaust Poetry.” 20: 2 (2008): 31-42.
  • “Buccality.” Derrida, Deleuze, Psychoanalysis. Ed. Gabriele M. Schwab. New York: Columbia UP, 2007. 77-104.
  • “Buccal Reading.” CR: The New Centennial Review. Special Issue on “Remainders: Of Jacques Derrida” 7: 2 (October 2007): 71-86.
  • “The Rhetoric of Survival and the Possibility of Romanticism.” Studies in Romanticism. Special Issue on “Romanticism and the Legacies of Jacques Derrida.” (Summer/Fall 2007): 247-63.
  • “Introduction: Literature and the Right to Marriage” (co-authored with Steven Miller). Diacritics. Special Issue on “Literature and the Right to Marriage.” 35: 4 (2005). 1-19.
  • “’At the Far Edge of this Ongoing Enterprise…’” Legacies of Paul de Man. Ed. Marc Redfield. New York: Fordham University Press, 2007. 77-92. Reprinted from Romantic Circles/Praxis Series. Special Issue on “The Legacies of Paul de Man.” Ed. Marc Redfield (May 2005).
  • “Testimony and Trope in Frankenstein.” Studies in Romanticism 45: 1 (Spring 2006): 77-115.
  • “The Pardon of the Disaster.” SubStance: A Review of Theory and Literary Criticism. Special Issue on “Law and Literature” 35: 1 (2006): 85-105.
  • “Remembering, Repeating….” (Review Essay on Dominick LaCapra, History in Transit: Experience, Identity, and Critical Theory and Amy Hungerford, The Holocaust of Texts). Contemporary Literature 46: 4 (Winter 2005): 736-45.
  • “Breath, Today: Celan’s Translation of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 71.” Comparative Literature 57:4 (Fall 2005): 328-51.
  • “The Girl with the Open Mouth (Through the Looking Glass).” Angelaki: Journal of the Theoretical Humanities 9:1 (April 2004): 159-63.
  • “Maurice Blanchot.” Dictionary of Literary Biography: Twentieth Century European Cultural Theorists. Vol. 2. Ed. Paul Hansom (Gale, 2004): 40-52.
  • “Wordsworthian Wakefulness.” The Yale Journal of Criticism. 16:1 (April 2003): 93-112.
  • “Being-Destroyed: Anthropomorphizing L’espèce humaine.” Theoretical Interpretations of the Holocaust. Ed. Daniel Stone (Rodopi, 2001): 103-26.
  • “Albeit Eating: Toward an Ethics of Cannibalism.” Angelaki: Journal of the Theoretical Humanities 2.1 (1995): 63-80.

Additional Positions

Director, Center for the Humanities
Affiliated Faculty, Mosse/Weinstein Center for Jewish Studies,
Global StudiesCenter for European Studies

Research Interests

British and Continental Romanticism, critical theory, philosophy and literature, post-Holocaust writing, the lyric.


I teach English 723: Critical Methods, which is the core course for incoming graduate students. Other recent courses include: “The Theory of Romanticism,” “Romantic Autobiographies,” “Ecstasy, Melancholy, Madness: Reading Romantic Poetry,” “Trauma Theory,” and “Jacques Derrida and Modern Jewish Thought.”

Recent Books

  • Reading with John Clare cover
    Guyer, Sara.“Reading With John Clare.” 2015: n. pag. Print.

    Reading with John Clare argues that at the heart of contemporary biopolitical thinking is an insistent repression of poetry. By returning to the moment at which biopolitics is said to emerge simultaneously with romanticism, this project renews our understanding of the operations of contemporary politics and its relation to aesthetics across two centuries.

    Guyer focuses on a single, exemplary case: the poetry and autobiographical writing of the British poet John Clare (1793–1864). Reading Clare in combination with contemporary theories of biopolitics, Guyer reinterprets romanticism’s political legacies, specifically the belief that romanticism is a direct precursor to the violent nationalisms and redemptive environmentalisms of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

    Guyer offers an alternative account of many of romanticism’s foundational concepts, like home, genius, creativity, and organicism. She shows that contemporary critical theories of biopolitics, despite repeatedly dismissing the aesthetic or poetic dimensions of power as a culpable ideology, emerge within the same rhetorical tradition as the romanticism they denounce. The book thus compels a rethinking of the biopolitical critique of poetry and an attendant reconsideration of romanticism and its concepts.

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  • Romanticism after Auschwitz cover
    Guyer, Sara.“Romanticism After Auschwitz.” 2007: n. pag. Print.

    Romanticism After Auschwitz reveals how post-Holocaust testimony remains romantic, and shows why romanticism must therefore be rethought. The book argues that what literary historians have traditionally called “romanticism,” and characterized as a literary movement stretching roughly between 1785 and 1832, should be redescribed in light of two circumstances. The first is the specific inadequacy of literary-historical models before “romantic” works. The second is the particular function that these unsettling aspects of “romantic” works have after Auschwitz. The book demonstrates that certain figures (of speech, writing, and argument) central to normative accounts of “romanticism,” serve in their most radical—most genuinely “romantic”—form as vehicles for posing a conception of life (and death) revealed in the camps. In these pages, Agamben meets Wordsworth, Shakespeare meets Celan, film meets lyric poetry, survivors’ accounts meet fiction, de Man encounters Nancy. The book offers new readings of highly canonical works—Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads, Alain Resnais’s Night and Fog—and introduces unfamiliar texts. It elaborates a fascinating account of the rhetoric of ethical dispositions and gives its readers an attentive, moving way of understanding the condition of human survival after the Holocaust.

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