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J.M. van der Laan

Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures

Illinois State University



Ph.D. University of Illinois, Urbana/Champaign 1984

M.A. University of Cincinnati 1979

Fellowship at Universität Hamburg 1977-78

B.A. Calvin College 1976


  Faust; Goethe; technology; the humanities


Illinois State University, Professor Emeritus, Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures, 2018-present

Professor of German, 2002-2018

Associate Professor of German, 1994-2002

Assistant Professor of German, 1989-94

Universität Paderborn, Guest Professor and Research Fellow, American Studies and German Studies, Sommersemester 2009

Hope College, Assistant Professor of German, 1985-89

Visiting Assistant Professor of German, 1984-85



Narratives of Technology. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016. i-x, 278 pp.

Seeking Meaning for Goethe’s Faust.  London/New York:  Continuum Books, 2007.  i-x, 202 pp.

Co-Authored Books

Religion in America Today. Richard Stivers and J.M. van der Laan. Eugene OR: Cascade Books, 2021.

Edited Works

The Faust Tales of Christoph Rosshirt. A Critical Edition. Ed. J.M. van der Laan. Rochester, New York: Camden House, 2019. i-xiv, 254 pp.

The Faustian CenturyGerman Literature and Culture in the Age of Luther and Faustus. Ed. J.M. van der Laan and Andrew Weeks.  Rochester NY: Camden House, 2013. i-xii, 399 pp.

Bulletin of Science, Technology, and Society 30/4 (2010):  233-304.  Guest editor, J.M. van der Laan, special issue on Science Fiction.

Articles in Journals, Chapters in Books

“Eighteenth Century German Fausts.” The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 16 January 2023.  (8816 words)

“Concerning a Christian Response to Technology.” The Ellul Forum 67 (Spring 2021): 57-66.

“Technology and Hauptmann’s Bahnwärter Thiel.” Oxford German Studies 43/2 (2014): 125-139.

“Introduction: Faust Scholarship and the Project at Hand.” In The Faustian Century: German Literature and Culture in the Age of Luther and Faustus. Ed. J.M. van der Laan and Andrew Weeks. Rochester NY: Camden House, 2013. 1-15.

“Faust from Cipher to Sign and Pious to Profane.” In The Faustian Century. 125-147.

“Faust und das Böse: der Sündenfall, der Zauber und der Wille zur Macht.” Zeitschrift für Religions- und Geistesgeschichte 64/3 (2012): 260-278.

“Language and Being Human in Technology.” Bulletin of Science, Technology, and Society (BSTS) 32/3 (2012): 241-252.

The Enigmatic Eternal-Feminine.” In Goethe’s Faust and Cultural Memory: Comparatist Interfaces. Ed. Lorna Fitzsimmons. Bethlehem, PA: Lehigh University Press, 2012. 37-48.

“Editor’s Notes: Science, Technology, and Science Fiction.” BSTS 30/4 (2010): 233-239.

“Frankenstein as Science Fiction and Fact.” BSTS 30/4 (2010): 298-304.

“Lessing’s ‘Lost’ Faust and Faustus Socinus.” Lessing Yearbook XXXVIII (2008-2009): 53-65.

“Herder on War and Peace.” Monatshefte 101/3 (2009): 335-346.

“How the Internet Shapes Religious Life, or The Medium is Itself the Message.” BSTS 29/4 (2009): 272-277.

“The Transcultural Textures of Faust.” In Jahrbuch für internationale Germanistik. Ed. Steven D. Martinson and Renate Schulz. 94 (2008): 165-178.

“Is it live or is it Memorex.” BSTS 27 (2007): 136-141.

“Christoph Martin Wieland and the German Making of Greece.” In Nineteenth Century Literary Criticism. Ed. Russell Whitaker. Vol. 177. Detroit/New York/London/Munich: Thompson/Gale. 2007. 316-323. First appeared in The Germanic Review 70/2 (1995): 51-56.

“Machines and Human Beings in the Movies.” BSTS 26/1 (February 2006): 31-37.

“Goethe, Narrative, and Science.” Scientia Poetica. Jahrbuch für Geschichte der Literatur und der Wissenschaften [Yearbook for the History of Literature, Humanities and Sciences] 9 (2005): 72-85.

“The Virtual and the Real in Goethe’s Faust.” Nineteenth Century Literature Criticism. Ed. Jessica Bomarito and Russel Whitaker. Vol. 154. Detroit/New York/London/Munich: Thompson/Gale, 2005. 292-299. First appeared in Acta Germanica 25 (1997): 7-20.

Kabale und Liebe Reconsidered.” A Companion to the Works of Friedrich Schiller. Ed. Steven D. Martinson. Rochester, NY: Camden-House, 2005. 115-135.

“Über Goethe, Essays und Experimente.“ Tr. Marcus Krause. In Literarische
Experimentalkulturen im 19. Jahrhundert: Poetologien des Experiments im 19. Jahrhundert. Ed. Marcus Krause and Nicolas Pethes. Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann, 2005. 243-250. First appeared in Deutsche Vierteljahrsschrift 64 (1990): 45-53.

“Temptation and Seduction in the Technological Milieu.” BSTS. Special Issue on Jacques Ellul. 24/6 (December 2004): 509-517.

“Goethe, Hesiod, and Yeats on Progress.” Neophilologus 88 (2004): 405-416.

“Neil Postman and the Critique of Technology.” BSTS 24/2 (April 2004): 145-150.

Faust and Textual Chaos.” In Goethe, Chaos, and Complexity. Ed. Herbert Rowland. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2001. 105-115.

“Plastic Words, Words Without Meaning.” BSTS 21/5 (October 2001): 349-353.

“Faust as Technological Mastermind.” BSTS 21/1 (February 2001): 7-13.

“Essayistic Orders of Chaos.” In Disrupted Patterns: On Chaos and Order in the Enlightenment. Ed. T. E. D. Braun and J. A. McCarthy. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2000. 191-202.

“Faust’s Divided Self and Moral Inertia.”Monatshefte 91/4 (1999): 452-463.

“The Virtual and the Real in Goethe’s Faust.” Acta Germanica 25 (1998): 7-20.

“Heidentum.” Goethe Handbuch. Ed. Bernd Witte, Theo Buck, Hans-Dietrich Dahnke, Regine Otto, and Peter Schmidt. Stuttgart: Metzler, 1998. Vol. 4/1. 473-475.

“Education, Technology, and Totalitarianism.” BSTS 17/5 & 6 (1997): 236-248.

“Goethe.” Encyclopedia of the Essay. Ed. Tracy Chevalier. London and Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers, 1997. 345-347.

“The Virtual and the Real in Goethe’s Faust.” In Studies on Voltaire and the Eighteenth Century. Vol. 346. Transactions of the Ninth Interna­tional Congress on the Enlightenment. Ed. Anthony Strugnell. Oxford: Voltaire Foundation, 1996. I: 476-479.

“Christoph Martin Wieland and the German Making of Greece.” The Germanic Review 70/2 (1995): 51-56.

“The Shape of a Genre.” Introduction to The Eighteenth-Century Book Review. Ed. Herbert Rowland and Karl J. Fink. Heidelberg: Carl Winter Verlag, 1995. 11-15.

“Nicolai’s Concept of the Review Journal.” In The Eighteenth-Century Book Review. 1995. 95-111.

“Die Faustfigur bei Goethe und Nietzsche im Hinblick auf die Postmoderne.“ Euphorion: Zeitschrift für Literaturgeschichte 88/4 (1994): 458-467.

“The Problem of Language and National Identity for Holocaust Poet, Paul Celan.” History of European Ideas 16/1-3 (1993): 207-212.

“Friedrich Nicolai and Johann Jakob Dusch: A Study in Eighteenth-Century Literary Criticism.” Seminar: A Journal of Germanic Studies 28/2 (1992): 95-109.

“Herder’s Essayistic Style.” In Johann Gottfried Herder: Language, History, and the Enlightenment. Ed. Wulf Koepke. Columbia, South Carolina: Camden House, 1990. 108-123.

“Forster’s ‘Leckereyen’ and Möser’s ‘Harlekin:’ Medium and Message of the Essay.” Lessing Yearbook XXI (1990): 157-169.

“Of Goethe, Essays, and Experiments.” Deutsche Viertel­­­­jahrsschrift für Literaturwissenschaft und Geistes­geschichte 64 (1990): 45-53.

“America in Contemporary German Poetry: Images of Reality.” By Ruth E. Lorbe. Trans. J. M. van der Laan. In Ameri­ka! New Images in German Literature. Ed. Heinz D. Oster­le. New York/Bern/Frankfurt am Main/Paris: Peter Lang, 1989. 243-275.

“The German Essay of the Eighteenth Century: Mirror of its Age.” Lessing Yearbook XVIII (1986): 179-196.

“Goethe’s Portrait of Herder in Dichtung und Wahrheit.“ Neophilologus 70 (1986): 555-562.

“’Das tauffbucblin verdeudscht:‘ Martin Luther, Book Produc­tion, and Bibliography.” Gutenberg-Jahrbuch 1985 (1985): 162-166.

Book Reviews

Goethe:  Journeys of the Mind.  By Gabrielle Bersier, Nancy Boerner, and Peter Boerner.  London:  Haus Publishing, 2019.  196 pp + 16 images.  In Monatshefte 112/3 (Fall 2020): 539-541.

Goethe’s Modernisms by Astrida Orle Tantillo. New York/London: Continuum, 2010. 198 pp. In The German Quarterly 85/1 (Winter 2012): 93-95.

Remapping Reality: Chaos and Complexity in Science and Literature by John A. McCarthy. Amsterdam/New York: Rodopi, 2006. 373 pp. In Goethe-Yearbook 17 (2010): 392-393.

Versuch in moralischen Erzählungen by Johann Gottlob Benjamin Pfeil. Ed. and with an Afterword by Alexander Košenina. St. Ingbert: Röhrig Universitätsverlag, 2006. 102 pp. In Lessing Yearbook XXXVIII (2008-2009): 299-300.

Everyday Life in the German Book Trade: Friedrich Nicolai as Bookseller and Publisher in the Age of Enlightenment 1750-1810 by Pamela E. Selwyn. University Park PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2000. 419 pp. In Monatshefte 96/4 (2004): 600-601.

Heilige Poesie: Zu einem literarischen Modell bei Pyra, Klopstock undWieland by Joachim Jacob. Tübingen: Max Nie­meyer Verlag, 1997. 258 pp. In Monatshefte 92/3 (2000): 361-362.

Reisen in Zellen und durch den Kopf. Ansichten von der Aufklärung by Wolfgang Promies. Promenade 7. Ed. Gert Ueding. Tübingen: Klöpfer und Meyer, 1997. 261 pp. In Lessing Year­book XXX (1998): 261-263.

The Voice Imitator by Thomas Bernhard. Translation of Der Stimmen­imitator by Kenneth J. Northcott. Chicago and London: Univer­si­ty of Chicago Press, 1997. 104 pp. Public Radio Broadcast on WGLT, 89.1 FM. 4 November, 1998.

The Stony Heart and Moondocks/Boondocks, two novels by Arno Schmidt. Translation of Das steinerne Herz and Kaff auch Mare Crisium by John E. Woods. Normal, IL: Dalkey Archive Press, 1997. 416 pp. Public Radio Broadcast on WGLT, 89.1 FM. 13 May, 1998.

Faust the Theologian by Jaroslav Pelikan. New Haven and London: Yale UP, 1995. 145 pp. and of The Beautiful Soul: Aesthetic Morality in the Eighteenth Century by Robert E. Norton. Ithaca and London: Cornell UP, 1995. 314 pp. In Eighteenth-Century Studies 30/2 (1996-7): 197-198.

Idioms of Uncertainty: Goethe and the Essay by Peter J. Burgard. University Park, Pennsylvania: Pennsyl­vania UP, 1992. 250 pp. In Journal of English and Germanic Philolo­gy 95 (1996): 297-300.

Musarion and Other Rococo Tales by Christoph Martin Wieland. Translation by Thomas C. Starnes. Columbia, S.C.: Camden House, 1991. In Colloquia Germanica 26/1 (1993):77-78.

Kant als Schriftsteller by Willi Goetschel. Wien: Passagen Verlag, 1990. 208 pp. In Journal of English and Germanic Philology 92/1 (1993): 99-101.

Geschichte der deutschen Literatur. Von der Aufklä­rung bis zum Vormärz. Ed. Ehrhard Bahr. Vol. 2. Kontinu­ität und Veränderung. Vom Mittelalter bis zur Gegenwart. Tübingen: Frankce, 1988. 531 pp. In Lessing Yearbook XXII (1990): 273-275.

Crossing Boundaries: A Theory and History of Essay Writing in German, 1680-1815 by John A. McCar­thy. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1989. 346 pp. In Lessing Yearbook XXII (1990): 300-302.

Reflections on the Imitation of Greek Works in Paint­ing and Sculp­ture [by Johann Joachim Winckelmann]. Com­plete German text, with a new English translation by Elfriede Heyer and Roger C. Horton. LaSalle, IL: Open Court, 1987. 75 pp. In Lessing Yearbook XXI (1989): 262-264.

The Merchant in German Literature of the Enlighten­ment by John W. Van Cleve. University of North Carolina Studies in the Germanic Languages and Literatures, 105. Ed. Rich­ard H. Lawson. Chapel Hill/London: Universi­ty of North Carolina Press, 1986. 173 pp. In Lessing Yearbook XX (1988): 367-369.

Prosakunst ohne Erzählen: Die Gattungen der nicht-fiktiona­len Kunstprosa. Ed. Klaus Weissenberger. Konzepte der Sprach- und Litera­turwissenschaft, 34. Tübingen: Max Niemeyer Verlag, 1985. 202 pp. In Journal of English and Germanic Philology 87/1 (1988): 96-99.

Vergleichung Shakespears und Andreas Gryphs und andere dramenthe­oretische Schriften [by Johann Elias Schlegel]. Ed. Steven D. Martin­son. Stuttgart: Reclam, 1984, 94 pp. In Lessing Yearbook XVII (1985): 247-249.


Grant from the European Union (through the European Union Center of Excellence at the University of Illinois, Urbana/Champaign) to promote European Studies at Illinois State University, 2014-15

Outstanding College Researcher in the Humanities, College of Arts and Sciences, Illinois State University, 2008

College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Teacher, Illinois State University, 1992-93

Großes deutsches Sprachdiplom, Goethe Institut München, 1978

DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) Fellowship, Universität Hamburg, 1977-78

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