My research interests, although broad by some standards, focus on the most basic of questions: what does it mean to read. To that end, I am interested in how texts construct identity and how literature summons a kind of thinking that would otherwise be unavailable to thought. So much for my theoretical interests. My last project, "Echoes of a Queer Messianic: From Frankenstein to Brokeback Mountain "(SUNY UP)" maps the potential for some form of queer love to escape, elide or become unidentifiable once the appartus of sexuality becomes, in many resepcts, the discipline of disciplines of our modernity. My first book, The Spell of Italy: Vacation, Magic and the Attraction of Goethe, examined Italy as a phantasmic space (phantasmic because it was modeled on the phantasm of ancient Greece) that gave rise to a canonical tradition. My teaching interests tend to examine the intersections between literature and philosophy but always with an interest as to how that intersection has a distinctly historical character. I frequently teach courses on Jewish-German relations, the Holocaust and ones that place philosophical, literary and cultural texts (including film) in dialogue with each other.
My next two book projects have their origins in a recently completed chapbook of poetry: AIDS. Remains The first project seeks to revisit the questions anchored around issues of representation that first surface during the early stages of the disease. Is what was contested then, now a site of consensus? And what about those groups that remain in the shadows as most consider the disease to be managed and "under control"? A second project looks to document and understand the different kinds of memorials that surround AIDS—both public and underground. How does one of the most detested groups at the time mourn its dead? Finally, I am working on an essay that examines Broadway’s response to AIDS, from the American-centric work of Tony Kushner to the imagined communities in Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods.
- Richard Block, Michael DuPlessis. “Betrayal: A Treacherous Subject.” The New Centennial Review (2012): 1-16.
- Richard Block. “The Bloody Price of Adoption: Betrayal and Absolution in Kleist’s “The Foundling.” The New Centennial Review. 2012. 27-52.
- Forthcoming (April 2018): Richard O. Block, Echoes of a Queer Messianic: From Frankenstein to Brokeback Mountain. SUNY Series, Literature ... In Theory: SUNY PRESS, 2018.
Research Advised: Graduate Dissertations
- Japhet Johnstone. "Stages of Inversion: Die verkehrte Welt in Nineteenth-Century German Literature."
- Lena Heilmann. “Remodeling the Frauenzimmer: Women and Spatiality in German Literature (1771-1820).” Diss.
- Elisabeth Cnobloch. "Messengers of Ill Tidings: Situating the Speech of Refugees in the Works of Jakob Wassermann, Franz Kafka, Emine Özdamar and Herta Müller" Diss.
- Jan Hengge. "Pure Violence on the Stage of Exception: Representations of Revolutions in Georg Büchner, Hugo von Hofmannsthal, Heiner Müller, and Elfriede Jelinek." Diss.
- POW! ZAP! SPRING! - COURSES IN ENGLISH - February 14, 2019
- Richard Block on “Teaching the Holocaust in the Age of Trump” and Annegret Oehme on a key teacher and her path to studying Old Yiddish in “From Old Yiddish to Modern Mentorship” - January 28, 2019
- Newly Minted PhD: Nathan Bates - June 12, 2018
- NOW IN PRINT: Prof. Richard O. Block, Echoes of a Queer Messianic: From Frankenstein to Brokeback Mountain - October 30, 2017
- Study Abroad: Spring in Vienna 2017 - May 24, 2017
- Discovering Sympathy for the Devil this Autumn Quarter - May 18, 2016
- Newly Minted PhD: Japhet Johnstone - March 2, 2016
- Autumn Courses in Germanics - June 13, 2018
- Spring Courses in Germanics - March 13, 2018
- Spring 2018 Course Descriptions - January 23, 2018
- Popular Germanics courses offered in English - October 30, 2014
- The Environment, the Holocaust in Film, and the Devil: Winter 2014 Undergraduate Course Offerings - October 10, 2013
- Autumn Courses Offered in English: Jews and German Culture - June 20, 2012