Karen Zumhagen-Yekple is College Fellow in the Department of Comparative Literature, specializing in British and European literature of the 20th and 21st centuries with a focus on modernism and the relationship between philosophy and literature. She received her Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of California, Berkeley with specialties in British, European, Latin American and North American literature of the 19th- 21st centuries with a focus on modernism and the relationship between philosophy and literature. She also studied at the EHESS in Paris and holds an M.A. in Philosophy from the University of Virginia. From 2009 to 2011, she was a postdoctoral fellow in the Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship of Scholars in the Humanities at Stanford University, where she taught in the English department.
Her current book project in progress, A Different Order of DIfficulty: Question, Quest and Transformative Yearning in Modernism, attends to the significance of Wittgenstein's philosophy for studies in literary modernism and its fragmented afterlife in contemporary literature. It reads works by Joyce, Woolf and Kafka (tracing the legacy of each in a coda on works of contemporary world literature written in continued dialogue both with Wittgenstein and their literary modernist precursors) in relation to Wittgenstein's gnomic Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus.
Karen is also co-editing, with Michael LeMahieu, Wittgenstein and Modernism, under contract with the University of Chicago Press. Her articles on Joyce, Kafka, Woolf and Piglia are in print and forthcoming.
Topics that are the focus of her teaching include: transatlantic and European modernism, its resonance in contemporary global literature; the novel; Wittgenstein; the foundations of Analytic philosophy; Continental philosophy; faith and secularity; modern and postmodern difficulty; autobiography and confession; experimental fiction; critical theory, and film studies.
Karen's recent courses at Harvard include "20th c Paradoxes of the Secular-Sacred," "Kafka, Coetzee and the Difficulty of Reality" and "The Moment in Modernism." Her courses for 2012-2013 include "Modernism's Global Afterlife" and "The Booker Prize: Aesthetics, Commerce and Canon-Making."