Martin Puchner




Byron and Anita Wien Professor of Drama

and of English and Comparative Literature


Harvard University

Martin Picture


After studying philosophy, history, and literature at the University of Konstanz, the Università di Bologna, UC Santa Barbara, and UC Irvine, I earned a Ph.D. at Harvard University in 1998. I taught English and comparative literature at Columbia University from 1998 until 2010, before moving to Harvard University in the summer of 2010.


My writing and research fall under four broad rubrics: world literature; drama; modernism; literature and philosophy. World Literature is something I have engaged as the general editor of the Norton Anthology of World Literature (2012) and the Norton Anthology of Western Literature (2013) as well as in a series of articles and lectures. I also advise departments on how to teach world literature and promote the teaching of world literature as part of a liberal arts education for the twenty-first century both here and abroad. I am at work on a narrative non-fiction book about world literature.


In Stage Fright (2002) and Against Theatre (ed. 2006), as well as many performance articles and reviews I have worked on the often contentious relation between theater and literature in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. This interest also informs my editorial work in drama, including an edition of Six Plays of Henrik Ibsen (2003), a new edition of Lionel Abel's Metatheater (2003), a four-volume collection of critical essays on modern drama, Critical Concepts: Modern Drama (2008), The Norton Anthology of Drama (2009) as well as my editorship of Theatre Survey.


My work on modernism aims at the relation between literary genres and the political upheavals of the time. This is addressed chiefly in the book Poetry of the Revolution: Marx, Manifestos, and the Avant-Gardes (2006), which won the MLA's James Russell Lowell Award and honorable mention of the MSA's best book award. Look under the "research" and then "modernism" tabs for many reviews and follow-up articles this book has generated.

I approach philosophy primarily through its relation to literary form, leading me to a new understanding of such figures as Marx, Nietzsche, Wittgenstein, Burke, Deleuze, and Badiou. This work is articulated inThe Drama of Ideas: Platonic Provocations in Theater and Philosophy (Oxford UP, 2010), winner of the Joe A. Callaway Prize and the Water Channing Cabot prize, but it also informs an edition of writings by Karl Marx, The Communist Manifesto and Other Writings (2005) and the publication, in English, of Alain Badiou's Rhapsody for the Theatre (2008) in a special issue of Theatre Survey. In addition, I have written several articles on Wittgenstein and am working on a book about Wittgenstein's literary heirs.


In addition to my scholarly work, I write essays on contemporary literature, philosophy, and politics for

such venues as The London Review of Books, Bookforum, Raritan Review, N+1, Inside Higher Ed, and Public Books.

Recent News



For the New Modernist Studies controversy, see this article and my response.


The new Norton Anthology of World Literature, under my general editorship, is out.

Click here for an article about the anthology, and here, here, and here for op-ed pieces about world literature.


The Drama of Ideas: Platonic Provocations in Theater and Philosophy wins the Joe A. Callaway Prize for best book in drama and theater and the Walter Channing Cabot prize. Click here for a recent forum on the book, with my responses.


Poetry of the Revolution: Marx, Manifestos and the Avant-Gardes is just out in Turkish. Click here for a recent interview about the book at Rain Taxi.


With the support of the Mellon Foundation, I have started the Mellon School of Theater and Performance Research, an intensive two-week summer school for advanced graduate students and faculty. For more information, follow this link.