Martin Puchner is Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Harvard University and the Director of the Mellon School for Theater and Performance Research. After studying philosophy, history, and literature at the University of Konstanz, the Università di Bologna, UC Santa Barbara, and UC Irvine, he earned a Ph.D. at Harvard University in 1998. He has taught English and comparative literature at Columbia University since 1998 before moving to Harvard University in the summer of 2010.
Puchner's writing and research fall under three broad rubrics: drama; philosophy; and world literature. In Stage Fright (2002) and Against Theatre (ed. 2006), he uses drama and theater to highlight the values and contradictions of modernism. This interest also informs his editorial work in drama, including an edition of SixPlays 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 his editorship of Theatre Survey.
Puchner approaches philosophy primarily through its relation to drama and theater, leading him to a new perspective on 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), 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.
World Literature, an interest in the geography of literature, its translation and transformation across space and time, is the focus of 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. Puchner also serves as the new general editor of the Norton Anthology of World Literature and the Norton Anthology of Western Literature, and is at work on a book about world literature. In addition to his scholarly work, Puchner writes essays on contemporary literature, philosophy, and politics for such venues as The London Review ofBooks, Bookforum, Raritan Review, and N+1.