Hägglund named Baldwin Professor of Comparative Literature and Humanities

Martin Hägglund
Martin Hägglund

Martin Hägglund, who specializes in post-Kantian philosophy, critical theory, and modernist literature, has been appointed the Birgit Baldwin Professor of Comparative Literature and Humanities, effective April 17.

He is a member of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and is chair of the Department of Comparative Literature.

Hägglund, who joined the Yale faculty in 2012, engages with texts in French, German, English, and Scandinavian languages. He has received fellowships from the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, the Fulbright Commission, and the Bogliasco Foundation. He was elected to the Harvard Society of Fellows in 2009, awarded The Schück Prize by the Swedish Academy in 2014, and received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2018.

Hägglund’s work engages with the legacy of German idealism (from Hegel to Marx and beyond), modern writers (Proust, Woolf, Nabokov), theorists of desire (from Augustine to Freud and Lacan), and philosophers of time (from Aristotle and Kant to Husserl, Heidegger, and Derrida). His widely-reviewed and highly acclaimed books — which have been the subject of multiple colloquia, symposia, and journal volumes — include “Chronophobia: Essays on Time and Finitude” (2002); “Radical Atheism: Derrida and the Time of Life” (2008), “Dying for Time: Proust, Woolf, Nabokov” (2012); and, most recently, “This Life: Secular Faith and Spiritual Freedom” (2019). Hägglund’s work has been translated into a dozen languages and he has lectured at venues around the world, including keynote speaking engagements at the Festival of Ideas in Skopje, Macedonia; the University of Budapest; Johns Hopkins University; Cornell; Harvard; University of Melbourne; Oxford; and others. In 2020, Hägglund was invited to host the Swedish radio program “Sommar,” a great honor in the country, where the program that he wrote and presented drew a large audience of listeners.

This Life: Secular Faith and Spiritual Freedom” has transformed the discourse on faith, secularism, and democratic socialism. In it, Hägglund makes the case that finitude is a condition of possibility for our lives to matter, and that emancipated self-governance is the path toward owning our finite lives. In making this argument, Hägglund re-assesses the work of canonical thinkers — from Hegel and Marx to Martin Luther King, Jr. “This Life” was named a Best Book of the Year by The Guardian, The Millions, NRC, and The Sydney Morning Herald. It was awarded the 2020 René Wellek Prize, the most prestigious honor bestowed by the American Comparative Literature Association. New York Magazine selected “This Life” as one of the essential books to read during the pandemic, and Prospect Magazine named Hägglund one of the world’s top 50 thinkers.

Hägglund is currently the chair of the Department of Comparative Literature, and previously served as director of graduate studies; he has served on the Humanities Program Executive Committee and convened the Humanities Intramural Discussion Group and the Mellon Discussion Group for New Humanities Faculty. He has recently taught courses on Heidegger’s “Being and Time,” the temporality of narrative from Conrad to Beckett, and the mortality of the soul from Aristotle to John McDowell.

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