Professor of German, German
School of Humanities
Ph.D Columbia University, Columbia University, 1995
M.A., Columbia University, 1990, Germanic Languages
B.A., Stanford University, 1986, English and German
Phone: (949) 824-6406
Fax: (949) 824-6416
University of California, Irvine
European Languages and Studies
Mail Code: 3150
Irvine, CA 92697
Eighteenth-, Nineteenth-, and Twentieth-century German Literature and Intellectual history, Johann Georg Hamann, Heinrich von Kleist, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Bertolt Brecht, Frankfurt School Critical Theory, Carl Schmitt
David Pan received his Ph.D. in 1995 from Columbia University and has since taught at Washington University (St. Louis), Stanford University, and Penn State University before coming to UC Irvine in 2006. He also worked for two years as a management consultant at McKinsey and Company in Los Angeles and has been an editorial associate and is currently the book review editor at Telos.
His research has focused on the problem of aesthetic experience as a mediator of human history. As opposed on the one hand to materialist approaches that look to biology, technology or economics and on the other hand to idealist approaches that concentrate on philosophy and religion as drivers of history, his work attempts to understand how history develops through a process of recollection and interpretation that depends on judgment and takes the reception of works of art as its model.
He first investigates the dynamics of aesthetic experience in Primitive Renaissance: Rethinking German Expressionism (University of Nebraska Press, 2001), which describes the ways in which German expressionist writers and artists were inspired by art forms from so-called “primitive” cultures in Africa, the South Seas, and the Americas. This book establishes the outlines of a primitivist aesthetic that understands the modernist European return to myth and the primitive neither as a regression nor a purely imperialist gesture, but rather as part of broader trends in which artists and writers such as Friedrich Nietzsche, Wassily Kandinsky, and Carl Einstein were driven by a sense that social structures based on rational discourse and scientific analysis might be unable to replace adequately the myths and rituals of traditional culture. Through this analysis, the book considers how myth and ritual develop, not just as direct expressions of psychological, economic, or political pressures, but according to patterns of aesthetic reception in which recipients respond to such pressures with value judgments.
Sacrifice in the Modern World: On the Particularity and Generality of Nazi Myth (Northwestern UP, 2012) further develops these insights into the aesthetic mechanisms that mediate human history by looking at the ways in which myths and rituals of sacrifice are built upon aesthetic structures that are still defining for human history in the modern world. This book argues that, while a model of sacrifice lies at the foundation of every culture and serves to develop a human relationship to violence, every particular model of sacrifice functions differently and marks the society of which it is a part. Within this framework, the book characterizes Nazi myth as the merging of a heroic notion of sacrifice that it shares with many other cultures with a denial of sacrifice that creates a particular kind of dehumanized victim. Developing ideas by Kant, Nietzsche, Adorno, Bataille, Girard, and Burkert, the book argues that it is only by clearing our way through the Nazi denial of the aesthetic character of sacrifice that we can understand the durability of sacrifi¬cial structures that establish the fundamental values by which we live our lives.
He has further developed this aesthetics of sacrifice in essays that treat major works of German literature in terms of a basic opposition between 1) a traditionalist insistence on the subordination of the individual to community ideals through sacrifice, exemplified in Heinrich von Kleist, Franz Kafka, and Bertolt Brecht and 2) an Enlightenment defense of the individual, evident in Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Wilhelm von Humboldt and Ernst Jünger, leading to a mobilization of violence for the sake of the individual. These readings of German literary history attempt to lay out the types of political and ethical decisions that arise out of aesthetic structures in the German tradition.
His current research attempts to merge the understanding of history as the outgrowth of aesthetic experience with a political theory that would see such aesthetic mechanisms as the basis for political stability and change. Here, he turns to the work of Carl Schmitt and Walter Benjamin in order to link the former’s theory of the decision as the basis of political events to the latter’s theorization of history as the result of epochal shifts in the interpretation of the past. To the extent that political decisions are the result of interpretational shifts, they are also subject to the dynamics of aesthetic experience in which interpretation of the past enables judgments about the present.
The West as Rationality and Representation: Reading Habermas's Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere through Schmitt's Theory of the Partisan. Telos, Fall 2014 ed.(168), 64-84.
Sacrifice in Goethe's Faust. Goethe Yearbook, 21, 129-156.
Language and Metaphysics in Johann Georg Hamann’s Aesthetica in Nuce and Philologische Einfälle und Zweifel. Monatshefte, 106(3), 351-375.
“Poetry and the Public Sphere: World Literature and European Languages.” In Visions of Europe. ed. Anke Biendarra & Gail K. Hart. 140-155. Frankfurt am Main, Germany: Peter Lang, 2014.
„Goethes West-Oestlicher Divan und der Islam: Annaeherung durch Einverleibung.“ In Kein Platz an der Sonne: Erinnerungsorte der deutschen Kolonialgeschichte. ed. Juergen Zimmerer. 319-339. Frankfurt am Main, Germany: Campus Verlag, 2013.
“Developing a Theater of the Collective: Brecht's Lehrstuecke and the Nazi Thingspiele.” Colloquia Germanica 42 (2009)(4): 307-323.
"Aesthetic Truth and Political Action in Kleist’s Die Heilige Cäcilie oder die Gewalt der Musik." In Y. Lu, A. Stephens, A. Lewis, W. Vosskamp (Eds.), Wissensfiguren im Werk Heinrich von Kleists. 151-166. Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany: Rombach, 2012.
"Political Theology for Democracy: Carl Schmitt and John Dewey on Aesthetics and Politics." Telos 161 (2012), 120-140.
"Representing the Nation in Heinrich von Kleist’s Prinz Friedrich von Homburg." In B. Fischer, T. Mehigan (Eds.), Heinrich von Kleist and Modernity. 93-111. Rochester, NY: Camden House, 2011.
"The Structure of Aesthetic Pleasure in the Nazi Reception of Goethe's Faust." In P. E. Swett, C. Ross, F. d'Almeida (Eds.), Pleasure and Power in Nazi Germany. 87-106. Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire, United Kingdom: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011.
"Developing a Theater of the Collective: Brecht's Lehrstuecke and the Nazi Thingspiele." Colloquia Germanica, 42.4 (2009), 307-323.
“Sacrifice as Political Representation in Bertolt Brecht’s Lehrstuecke.” Germanic Review 84.3 (Summer 2009), 222-249.
"Afterword: Historical Event and Mythic Meaning in Carl Schmitt's Hamlet or Hecuba." In Carl Schmitt, Hamlet or Hecuba. 69-119. New York: Telos Press Publishing, 2009.
“Against Biopolitics: Walter Benjamin, Giorgio Agamben, and Carl Schmitt on Political Sovereignty and Symbolic Order.” The German Quarterly 82.1 (2009), 42-62.
“The Sovereignty of the Individual in Ernst Jünger’s The Worker.” Telos 144 (Fall 2008): 66-74.
“Carl Schmitt on Culture and Violence in the Political Decision.” Telos 142 (Spring 2008): 49-72.
“J.G. Herder, the Origin of Language, and the Possibility of Transcultural Narrative.” Language and Intercultural Communication 4: 1-2 (2004): 1-10.
"Revising the Dialectic of Enlightenment: Alfred Baeumler and the Nazi Appropriation of Myth." New German Critique 84 (Fall 2001): 37-54.
"The Aesthetic Foundations of Morality in Das Erdbeben in Chili." In Kleists Erzählungen und Dramen: Neue Studien. Ed. Paul Michael Lützeler and David Pan. Würzburg: Königshausen und Neumann, 2001. 49-59.
"Carl Einstein und die Idee des Primitiven in der Moderne" In Carl-Einstein-Kolloquium 1998: Carl Einstein in Brüssel: Dialoge über Grenzen/ Carl Einstein à Bruxelles: Dialogues par-dessus les frontiers. Ed. Roland Baumann and Hubert Roland. Munich: Peter Lang, 2001. 33-48.
"The Primitivist Critique of Modernity: Carl Einstein and Walter Benjamin." Telos 119 (Spring 2001): 41-57.
"The Struggle for Myth in the Nazi Period: Alfred Baeumler, Ernst Bloch, and Carl Einstein." South Atlantic Review 65.1 (2000): 41-57.
"The Persistence of Patriarchy in Franz Kafka's 'Judgment.'" Orbis Litterarum 55 (2000): 135-60.
"Adorno's Failed Aesthetics of Myth." Telos 115 (Spring 1999): 7-35.
"Defending the Premodern Household against the Bourgeois Family: Anti-Enlightenment Anticolonialism in Heinrich von Kleist's Die Verlobung in St. Domingo. Colloquia Germanica 32.2 (1999): 153-187.
"The Crisis of the Humanities and the End of the University." Telos 111 (Spring 1998): 69-106.
"Instrumentalizing the Sacred: From Alfred Baeumler to Manfred Frank." In Wendezeiten - Zeitenwenden: Positionsbestimmungen zur deutschsprachigen Literatur 1945-1995. Ed. Robert Weninger and Brigitte Rossbacher. Tübingen: Stauffenburg, 1997. 233-247.
"Botho Strauß: Myth, Community, and Nationalism in Germany." Telos 105 (Fall 1995): 57-75.
"Kafka as a Populist: Re-reading 'In the Penal Colony.'" Telos 101 (Fall 1994): 3-40.
"Political Aesthetics: Carl Schmitt on Hamlet." Telos 72 (Summer 1987): 153-159.
Sacrifice in the Modern World: On the Particularity and Generality of Nazi Myth.
Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 2012. 184 pp.
Kleists Erzählungen und Dramen: Neue Studien. Edited with Paul Michael Lützeler. Würzburg: Königshausen und Neumann, 2001. 263 pp.
Primitive Renaissance: Rethinking German Expressionism. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2001. 239 pp.
Reviews: Marion F. Deshmukh, Central European History 36.4 (2003): 605-607. Katharina Gerstenberger, Journal of English and Germanic Philology 102.3 (July 2003): 415-417. Ingo R. Stoehr, Seminar: A Journal of Germanic Studies 39 (2003): 367-68. Andrew C. Wisely, Monatshefte 95:4 (2003). G. P. Knapp, German Studies Review 25.1 (2002): 154-155. Joshua Gunn, Telos: A Quarterly Journal of Critical Thought 122(Winter 2002): 178-183. R. F. Krummel, Germanic Notes and Reviews 32.2 (2001): 201.
Erhard Schüttpelz. Die Moderne im Spiegel des Primitiven. Weltliteratur und Ethnologie (1870-1960). München: Fink, 2005. Zeitschrift für deutsche Philologie 126.4
Reto Sorg. Aus den "Gärten der Zeichen": Zu Carl Einsteins Bebuquin. Munich: Wilhelm Fink Verlag, 1998. Journal of English and Germanic Philology 100.1 (2001): 106-107.
"The Deconstruction of Tragedy." Review article of John Sallis. Crossings: Nietzsche and the Space of Tragedy. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1991. Telos 89 (Fall 1991): 141-154.
Post-doctoral Research Fellowship. Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. 2003-04
Getty Postdoctoral Research Fellowship. Getty Center for Arts and Humanities. 1997-98
German Studies Association
Modern Language Association
McKinsey and Company, Los Angeles 2001—2003
Book Review Editor