Bryan N. Norton

Bryan N. Norton
Year/Term Entered

Contact Information
Ph.D. Candidate
Visiting Researcher (Humboldt Universität Berlin, 2020-2021)

Entered Fall 2016

My work lies at the intersection of media theory, the history of science, the philosophy of technology, and art history. In my dissertation, tentatively titled Fragments of the Concrete, I investigate an unforeseen politics and aesthetics of synergy in German romantic writings, which is developed in the wake of epistemic and environmental concerns arising from Kant's critical project. This synergistic tendency of romanticism possesses as its organizing principle the creation of a perpetuum mobile, which is discussed in a range of writings from Novalis, Schelling, Goethe and Hölderlin. While combining the techno-utopian ideal of perpetual motion with an attunement to the energetic workings of the natural world, the project of romanticism thus opens out in my reading onto a new aesthetics and politics of technical relationality. This relationality is explored in light of Gilbert Simondon's call for a mechanological understanding of the way human life and the natural world are coconstituted by technics. In addition to this project, I am co-editing a collection of essays on Bernard Stiegler with Mark Hansen, tentatively titled Negentropy and the Future of Exteriorization. More information on both will be found shortly on my website, listed above.

My research has been supported by a number of foundations in the US and abroad, including the Fulbright program (Goethe Universität Frankfurt, 2019-2020), the German Academic Exchange Service (Universität zu Köln, 2015-2016), the Arthur Daemmrich Stiftung (2020), and and the Deutsches Literaturarchiv in Marbach (2018). I have published, in English and German, on a range of topics including media theory, gender studies, German romanticism and idealism, the philosophy of technology, and critical theories of speed. My work has appeared in the Goethe Lexicon of Philosophical Concepts, Symphilosophie: Internationale Zeitschrift für philosophische Romantik, and the Goethe Yearbook. I have forthcoming articles in edited volumes for Metzler/Springer’s Neue Romantikforschung seriesDe Gruyter's Imaginarien der Kraft series, and Theory, Culture and SocietyI also write for the LA Review of Books.

During the 2020-2021 academic year, I am living in Berlin as a guest researcher at Humboldt Universität. I am an active member of the research network “Aktuelle Perspektiven der Romantikforschung” at Goethe Universität, a project funded by the German Research Foundation. In addition to my scholarly research, I am an avid cinephile and curator. In 2014 I served as the editor-in-chief of LA Revivalist, an online magazine covering the arthouse cinema scene in Los Angeles and Hollywood. I have curated exhibitions on media theory and the history of material texts (Kislak Center for Rare Books and Manuscripts, 2019) and displays of technical knowledge in the Anthropocene at the 1876 Philadelphia World’s Fair (Arthur Ross Gallery, 2018). In addition to undertaking research in German, French, and English, I am struggling to learn Mandarin. 



Dissertation Chair: Catriona Macleod (now University of Chicago)

Committee Members: Warren Breckman, Adelheid Voskuhl, Leif Weatherby (NYU), Gabriel Trop (UNC Chapel Hill)


Peer-Reviewed Articles and Essays in Edited Volumes:

“Novalis’ new mechanical sensibility: blueprint for a post-Kantian perpetuum mobile.” (in revision).

“Kosmotechniken und die Romantik.“ Forthcoming contribution to edited volume on contemporary trends in romanticism research. Ed. Roland Borgards, Frederike Middelhoff, and Martina Wernli. Metzler/Springer, 2023 (forthcoming).

"Hyperion on the Shore." Forces of Nature in German Romanticism. De Gruyter, 2022 (forthcoming).

“Notizen zu einem romantischen Herbarium.“ Schriftstellerinnen der Romantik. Ed. Roland Borgards, Frederike Middelhoff, and Martina Wernli. Metzler/Springer, 2021 (forthcoming).

“Veloziferisch (Velociferian),” Goethe-Lexicon of Philosophical Concepts I, 2021,

“Geschlecht, Sinnfeld, Kontingenz. Zur Ontologie in Dorothea Schlegels Florentin.“ Symphilosophie II, 2020,

Other Articles

Review of Erich Hörl, Nelly Y. Pinkrah, and Lotte Warnsholdt, eds., Critique and the Digital. Chicago: Diaphanes, 2021 for Theory, Culture and Society, 2021 (forthcoming).

Review of Amanda Jo Godstein. Sweet Science: Romantic Materialism and the New Logics of Life. University of Chicago Press, 2017 for Goethe Yearbook 28, 2021, 

“The Anthropocene at the Fair.” Essay for Exhibition Catalogue. The World on View: Objects from Universal Expositions, 1851-1915. Ed: Andre Dombrowski. Head Curator: Heather Gibson Moqtaderi. Arthur Ross Gallery, 2018.

Recent and Upcoming Presentations

“Leibnizens Theodizee und Schellings Über das Wesen der menschlichen Freiheit.“ Internationale Schelling Gesellschaft. Inter University Centre. Dubrovnik, Croatia, 2020 (rescheduled for 2022).

“Goethe’s Concept of Steuerung” Goethe Atkins Conference. University of Chicago, 2020 (rescheduled for 2021).

“No Future? Technics and Anthropocene Time in Novalis.” German Studies Association. Panel: “Natural/Unnatural Crises in the Early Anthropocene.” Washington D.C., 2020 (rescheduled for 2021).

"Resonanz: zu einem neuen Nomos der Erde." DFG Netzwerk Aktuelle Perspektive der Romantikforschung. Goethe Universität Frankfurt, 2021.

"Schiff als Cosmogram und Metonymie." Colloquium Presentation. Institut für deutsche Literatur. Humboldt Universität Berlin, 2021.

“‘Alles veloziferisch‘: Speed and Steuerung in Goethe.“ Goethe Lexicon of Philosophical Concepts. Cambridge University (online), 2020.

“Dorothea Schlegels Florentin. Eine Kritik der männlichen Urteilskraft.“ SchriftstellerInnen der Romantik- Goethe Ringvorlesungen. Institut für deutsche Literatur und ihre Didaktik. Goethe Universität Frankfurt, 2020.

“Utopie und Technik. Die mechanische Romantik.“ Colloquium Presentation. Institut für deutsche Literatur und ihre Didaktik. Goethe Universität Frankfurt, 2019.