Universität KonstanzExzellenzcluster: Kulturelle Grundlagen von Integration

Prof. Dr. Angela Esterhammer


Angela Esterhammer

Angela Esterhammer is Professor of English and Comparative Literature, and Principal of Victoria College, at the University of Toronto. Previously, she held a Chair in English Literature at the University of Zurich and was a Distinguished University Professor at the University of Western Ontario.

Research concentrations

Angela Esterhammer works in the areas of British, German, and European Romanticism and nineteenth-century culture, from perspectives that emphasize performativity and performance. Her books Creating States (1994) and The Romantic Performative (2000) approach literary texts from the viewpoint of verbal performativity, speech acts, and philosophies of language. In recent years, she has been studying the influence of improvisational poetry across Europe during the Romantic period. Her book Romanticism and Improvisation, 1750-1850 (2008) uncovers the popularity of on-stage poetic improvisers during this period and shows how improvisation interacts with Romantic ideas about genius, spontaneity, orality, gender, and national identity. Her current project, “Speculation, Improvisation, Mediality: The Late-Romantic Information Age,” concerns experimental uses of textual, visual, and performative media during the 1820s and investigates the era’s preoccupation with personal identity, celebrity, anonymity, and pseudonymity.  In the course of this research she is working with literary magazines, innovative forms of theatre, and popular fiction, especially the work of the Scottish writer John Galt. Other areas covered in her research and teaching are English and German Romantic poetry (Blake, Coleridge, Wordsworth, Byron, Hemans, Landon, Hölderlin) and fiction (Scott, Godwin, Kleist, Staël).

Function within the Center

Visiting Scholar of the Institute for Advanced Study Konstanz (September 2017–December 2017)

Research project „The Late-Romantic Information Age: Speculation, Improvisation, and Mediality, 1820-1840“

Selected Publications

Co-editor (with Diane Piccitto and Patrick Vincent), Romanticism, Rousseau, Switzerland: New Prospects. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015.

Co-editor (with Alexander J. Dick), Spheres of Action: Speech and Performance in Romantic Culture. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2009.

Romanticism and Improvisation, 1750-1850. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2008.

Co-editor (with Jefferson J. A. Gatrall), Identity and Community: Constructions, Deconstructions, Reconstructions. Special issue of Arcadia: International Journal of Literary Studies 43 (2008), No. 1.

Editor, Northrop Frye on Milton and Blake. Volume 16 of the Collected Works of Northrop Frye. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2005.

Spontaneous Overflows and Revivifying Rays: Romanticism and the Discourse of Improvisation. Vancouver: Ronsdale Press, 2004.

Editor, Romantic Poetry. Comparative History of Literatures in European Languages. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2002.

The Romantic Performative: Language and Action in British and German Romanticism. Stanford University Press, 2000.

Creating States: Studies in the Performative Language of John Milton and William Blake. University of Toronto Press, 1994.

Two Stories of Prague, by R. M. Rilke. A translation and critical introduction. University Press of New England, 1994.