Tobias Boes

Department Chair, German and Russian Languages and Literature
Faculty Fellow, Nanovic Institute for European Studies

Department Chair, German and Russian Languages and Literature
122 Decio Faculty Hall
Notre Dame, IN 46556
+1 574-631-7188



Ph.D. Yale University, 2006

M.Phil. Yale University, 2003

B.A. Reed College, 1999

Research and Teaching Interests

  • Cultural interactions between Germany and the world
  • Literary modernism
  • Exile studies
  • Contemporary theater
  • Environmental humanities


Prof. Boes’s research focuses on the circulation of German culture in the world, and on the question of how German national identity is shaped by global forces. He is especially interested in the ways in which dynamics that characterized the so-called “first and second waves" of globalization (i.e. from about 1870 to 1970) anticipate current events. His most recent research in this vein concerns the ways in which nineteenth-century struggles about German orthography resemble contemporary debates about gender-neutral language.

His 2019 book Thomas Mann’s War provides the first comprehensive account in English of the pro-democracy activism of the Nobel Prize-winning author Thomas Mann during his American exile, which stretched from 1938 to 1952. The book also examines how Mann’s career anticipates that of intellectuals from developing nations in the twenty-first century, who like the German author need to address themselves to an anglophone audience because their books are banned or otherwise unavailable in their home countries.

Prof. Boes also teaches a class on contemporary German theater in the department’s Berlin Program and conducts research in the environmental humanities.

A native of West Berlin who came of age during the waning days of the Cold War, Prof. Boes grew up in the German-American community that surrounded the U.S. Army Berlin Brigade. His greatest professional goal is to pass on the spirit of intercultural friendship that characterized his childhood to a new generation of American students.

His public writing has appeared in Der Tagesspiegel, Jacobin, and other outlets.

Representative Publications and Accomplishments

Oxford Twenty-First Century Approaches to World Authorship (Oxford University Press, 2021)

Thomas Mann’s War: Literature, Politics, and the World Republic of Letters (Cornell University Press, 2019). Winner of the 2020 annual book prize of the German Studies Association. German translation: Thomas Manns Krieg: Literatur und Politik im amerikanischen Exil (Wallstein Verlag, 2021).

Alexander-von-Humboldt Fellowship to the University of Göttingen, 2018

National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship, 2015

Formative Fictions: Nationalism, Cosmopolitanism, and the Bildungsroman (Cornell University Press, 2013)