Ross Gillum Shields

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


  • 2020-2021: Leibniz Center for Literary and Cultural Research, Berlin, research associate for the project "Formation is Life": Organicism and Aesthetic Modernism
  • 2018-2019: Leibniz Center for Literary and Cultural Research, Berlin, research associate for the project Forms and Functions of Relations to the World
  • 2018: Columbia University, New York, Ph.D., Department of Germanic Languages. Dissertation: "Hanging-Together: Kant, Goethe, and the Theory of Aesthetic Modernism"
  • 2015: Columbia University, New York, M.Phil., Department of Germanic Languages
  • 2014: Columbia University, New York, M.A., Department of Germanic Languages
  • 2010: Humboldt University of Berlin: DAAD-Stipendiat, Institut für deutsche Literatur und Kulturwissenschaft

Research Interests

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


Articles and Book Chapters

  • »Zusammenhang (Nexus).« In Clark S. Muenzer, John H. Smith (Hg.): Goethe-Lexicon of Philosophical Concepts 1.1 (2021): Inaugural Installment.
  • “Morphology and Music Theory: Variations on a Theme by Goethe.” In Aus dem Leben der Form: Studien zum Nachleben von Goethes Morphologie in der Theoriebildung des 20. Jahrhunderts. Göttingen: Wallstein, forthcoming. 26pp.
  • “Aggregat.” Formen des Ganzen. Ed. Eva Geulen and Claude Haas. Göttingen: Wallstein, forthcoming. 7pp.
  • “‘Nonsense, wherein there is Method’: Wittgenstein on Music and Language.” The Germanic Review. 93.4 (2018): 394-413.
  • “The Beauty and Ethics of The Trial: Kafka’s Circumscription of Failure.” Freedom and Confinement in Modernity: Kafka’s Cages. Ed. A. Kiarina Kordela and Dimitris Vardoulakis. 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.


  • “Goethe’s Nexus Concept.” Goethe as a Heterodox Thinker (German Studies Association, Portland, OR, October 2019).
  • “The Resistance of Aesthetics: Weiss and Adorno." The Crisis of Politics and the Challenge to Marxist Theory (Institute for the Radical Imagination, Kasos, July 2019).
  • “Seeing the Connections: Synthetic Comments on Baumgarten, Goethe, and Wittgenstein.” Literary Morphology: Theories of Dynamic Form before and after Goethe (German Studies Association, Pittsburgh, September 2018).
  • Der Primat des Zusammenhangs: From Helmholtz to Webern.” German Studies Graduate Student Conference (Yale University, Ithaca, April 2016).
  • “Sound Figures, Thought Forms: Toward a Drastic Reading of Wittgenstein’s Tractatus.” Klangfiguren: Sonic Effects in Art and Science since the 18th Century (Workshop, Columbia University, March 2016).
  • “Time and the Work of Melancholy.” Time in/and Psychoanalysis (Psychoanalysis Reading Group [PARG] at Cornell University, Ithaca, March 2015).
  • “Money, etc.///…. in Pound.” Waste and Time (American Comparative Literature Association [ACLA], New York, March 2014).
  • “Editors [sic] Cut: The Literary Execution of Kafka’s Corpus.” German & Romance Language and Literatures [GRLL] Graduate Student Conference (John Hopkins, Baltimore, September 2012).
  • “Writing on the Edge: Kafka in the Margins of ‘The Great Wall of China.’” Comparative Literature Graduate Student Conference (New York University, New York, March 2012).


  • Spring 2021: Joyce's Ulysses, A Modernist Epic

  • Fall 2020: The Modernist Fringe, Bard College Berlin

  • Spring 2020: Early Modern Science, Bard College Berlin

  • Fall 2019: Modernism and the Interarts, Bard College Berlin

  • 2014 – 2018: Elementary Intensive Reading I & II, Columbia U (5 sems.)

  • 2012 – 2016: Elementary German I & II, Columbia U (5 sems.)