Ross Gillum Shields

Germanist/comparatist, research associate with the project “Formation is Life”. Organicism and Aesthetic Modernism



  • 2018 Visiting scholar at the Friedrich Schlegel Graduate School of Literary Studies in Berlin

Research Interests

  • Literary modernism
  • Aesthetics around 1800
  • Pictorial and musical theories of form
  • Philosophy of language
  • History of science


Articles and Book Chapters

  • Aggregat, in: Eva Geulen, Claude Haas (eds.): Formen des Ganzen. Göttingen: Wallstein 2022, 41–46
  • Zusammenhang (Nexus), in: Clark S. Muenzer, John H. Smith (eds.): Goethe-Lexicon of Philosophical Concepts 1.1 (2021), 121-140
  • Morphology and Music Theory. Variations on a Theme by Goethe, in: Eva Axer, Eva Geulen, Alexandra Heimes: Aus dem Leben der Form: Studien zum Nachleben von Goethes Morphologie in der Theoriebildung des 20. Jahrhunderts. Göttingen: Wallstein 2021, 203–233
  • »Nonsense, wherein there is Method«. Wittgenstein on Music and Language, in: The Germanic Review 93.4 (2018), 394–413
  • The Beauty and Ethics of The Trial. Kafka’s Circumscription of Failure, in: A. Kiarina Kordela, Dimitris Vardoulakis (eds.): Freedom and Confinement in Modernity: Kafka’s Cages. New York: Palgrave Macmillan 2011. 159–175


  • Klee, Paul: Contributions to a Theory of Pictorial Form, Ross Shields and Stefan Lamm, trans. Madrid: Fundación Juan March / Pro Helvetia 2016


  • with Eva Axer: The Seed of an Idea, the Idea of a Seed. Goethe's Urpflanze in the 21st Century, in: The Philosophical Life of Plants, 2021
  • The Work of Art in the Age of Trump, in: ZfL Blog, 15.2.2021
  • Rezension zu: Malika Maskarinec: The Forces of Form in German Modernism. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press 2018, in: Zeitschrift für deutsche Philologie, 10.10 (2020), 621–623
  • Reading the Aesthetics of Resistance, in: ZfL Blog, 29.6.2020


  • Helmholtz and Modernism, conference "Resonance in Art, Film, Literature, Music, and Theory," German Studies Association, Indianapolis, 3.10.2021
  • The Aesthetics of Alienation. Arendt, Bacon, Chandos, workshop "Arendts Kritik am 'archimedischen Punkt.' Erscheinungsraum einer nicht gegebenen Welt," ZfL, 3.7.2021
  • Goethe’s Nexus Concept, conference "Goethe as a Heterodox Thinker," German Studies Association, Portland OR, 28.10.2019
  • The Resistance of Aesthetics. Weiss and Adorno, conference "The Crisis of Politics and the Challenge to Marxist Theory," Institute for the Radical Imagination, Kasos, 14.7.2019
  • Seeing the Connections. Synthetic Comments on Baumgarten, Goethe, and Wittgenstein, conference "Literary Morphology. Theories of Dynamic Form before and after Goethe," German Studies Association, Pittsburgh, 30.9.2018
  • Der Primat des Zusammenhangs. From Helmholtz to Webern, conference "The Aesthetics of Dissonance," Yale University, New Haven, 29.4.2016
  • Sound Figures, Thought Forms. Toward a Drastic Reading of Wittgenstein’s Tractatus, workshop "Klangfiguren. Sonic Effects in Art and Science since the 18th Century," Columbia University, New York, 26.3.2016
  • Time and the Work of Melancholy, conference "Time in/and Psychoanalysis" Cornell University, Ithaca, 20.3.2015
  • Money, etc.///…. in Pound, conference "Waste and Time," American Comparative Literature Association, New York, 23.3.2014
  • Editors [sic] Cut. The Literary Execution of Kafka’s Corpus, conference "Counterphilologies," John Hopkins, Baltimore, 21.9.2012
  • Writing on the Edge: Kafka in the Margins of The Great Wall of China, conference "On Limits," New York University, 23.3.2012


Bard College Berlin

  • Fall semester 2021: Reinstating the Vague (seminar)
  • Spring semester 2021: Joyce's Ulysses, A Modernist Epic (seminar)
  • Fall semester 2020: The Modernist Fringe (seminar)
  • Spring semester 2020/21: Early Modern Science (seminar)
  • Fall semester 2019: Modernism and the Interarts (seminar)

Columbia University, New York

  • 2014–2018: Elementary Intensive Reading I & II
  • 2012–2016: Elementary German I & II