Brigid Doherty

Associate Professor of German and Art and Archaeology
Office Phone
223 East Pyne
Office Hours

On Leave: AY 2023–24



Brigid Doherty holds a joint appointment in the Departments of German and Art and Archaeology and is an associated faculty member in the School of Architecture. She currently serves as director of the Program in European Cultural Studies and as a member of the executive committees of the Program in Media + Modernity and the Council on International Teaching and Research. Professor Doherty came to Princeton in 2003 from her previous position as associate professor in the Department of the History of Art and the Humanities Center at The Johns Hopkins University.

Professor Doherty’s research and teaching focus on the interdisciplinary study of 20th-century art and literature, with special emphasis on relationships among the visual arts, literature, and aesthetic and psychoanalytic theories in German modernism. In 2005, she held the inaugural Research Forum Visiting Professorship in Modern and Contemporary Art at the Courtauld Institute of Art in London. In 2006–2007, she was the David and Roberta Logie Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard University and an affiliate scholar at the Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute. In 2008, she was a participant in Manifesta 7, the European Biennial of Contemporary Art, for which she created the exhibition project “Learning Things” as a contribution to the group of “mini-museums” curated by Anselm Franke and Hila Peleg in Trento, Italy. In 2011, she was a Fellow at the Zentrum für Literatur- und Kulturforschung in Berlin.

Teaching Interests

Professor Doherty’s undergraduate teaching has included freshman seminars on modern and contemporary art that have brought students into conversation with artists and curators in New York and Berlin; survey courses on German art between the World Wars and from 1960 to the present; and upper-level seminars that have explored what is at stake in writing about art in philosophy, psychoanalysis, poetry, and fiction from Plato to Freud, Rilke to DeLillo.

Professor Doherty’s graduate seminars have addressed a wide range of topics in 20th-century art, literature, and aesthetic theory, including: the significance of psychoanalytic concepts in art history and literary criticism, and vice versa; the art/anti-art problematic in Dada (co-taught with Hal Foster); theories and practices of montage; Rilke’s writings on art; and Walter Benjamin’s artwork essay (co-taught with Michael W. Jennings).

Current Research

Professor Doherty's current research is connected most directly to two book projects. The first, “Homesickness for Things,” explores how, in 20th-century German modernism and its present-day aftermath, objects—among them persons and works of art—become containers for fantasies of return to a maternal body or family home (each broadly conceived, in material as well as symbolic terms). The project further investigates how such fantasies come, in turn, to provide a basis for various ethical and political positions with regard to our understanding of history. “Homesickness for Things” situates the work of writers and artists, including the early-20th-century poet Rainer Maria Rilke and late- 20th-century artist Hanne Darboven, in relation to theories of “projective identification” and related phenomena of thinking, feeling, and intersubjectivity in psychoanalysis from Sándor Ferenczi to Wilfred Bion. The second book project is a monograph on the work of contemporary artist Rosemarie Trockel.



Selected Publications

“Rilke's Magic Lantern: Figural Language and the Projection of ‘Interior Action’ in the Rodin Lecture,” in Bildprojektionen. Filmisch-fotografische Dispositive in Kunst und Architektur, ed. Lilian Haberer and Annette Urban (Transcript, forthcoming November 2014).

“Titles and Compositions: On Rosemarie Trockel at Gladstone Gallery, New York,” Texte zur Kunst (June 2014).

Less sauvages than others: On Rosemarie Trockel’s A Cosmos,” Afterall (Spring 2014).

“Interior Motives,” Cahiers d’Art Revue 1–2 (2013).

“Rilke's Magic Lantern,” in The Challenge of the Object / Die Herausforderung des Objekts, Congress Proceedings of the CIHA 2012, ed. G. Ulrich Großmann and Petra Krutisch (Germanisches Nationalmuseum, 2013).

“Monster, Medusa, Vera icon: Gesichter und deren Verlegung in Rosemarie Trockels Kunst,” in Gesichter: Kulturgeschichtliche Szenen aus der Arbeit am Bildnis des Menschen, ed. Sigrid Weigel (Wilhelm Fink, 2013).

 “The Work of Art and the Problem of Politics in Berlin Dada” (2003), reprinted in Weimar Publics/Weimar Subjects: Rethinking the Political Culture of Germany in the 1920s, ed. Kathleen Canning, Kerstin Barndt, Kristin McGuire (Berghahn Books, 2010).

 “Between the Artwork and Its ‘Actualization’: A Footnote to Art History in Benjamin’s ‘Work of Art’ Essay,” Paragraph 32.3 (2009).

“László Moholy-Nagy: Constructions in Enamel, 1923,” in Bauhaus 1919–1933: Workshops for Modernity, ed. Barry Bergdoll and Leah Dickerman (Museum of Modern Art, 2009).

The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility and Other Writings on Media, coedited with Michael W. Jennings and Thomas Y. Levin (Harvard University Press, 2008).

20th-Century Art
Home Department and Other Affiliations
Art & Archaeology
Department of German
School of Architecture