Samuel Weber

Avalon Professor of Humanities

Northwestern University

Samuel Weber is the Paul de Man Chair at the European Graduate School (EGS), the Avalon Professor of Humanities at Northwestern University, and one of the leading American thinkers across the disciplines of literary theory, philosophy, and psychoanalysis. He has been a Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Los Angeles, and the Director of their Paris Program in Critical Theory.


Samuel Weber obtained his doctorate from Cornell University in 1960, working with Paul de Man. He then pursued graduate education in Europe, primarily in Germany, and has been a professor in Germany, France and the United States since. It was during his studies abroad that he first encountered the work of the Frankfurt School of critical theory. He was strongly influenced by the work of Theodor W. Adorno, eventually coming to translate his major work of his critical theory – Prisms – into English. This translation, including an introduction by written by him, was of crucial importance in the reception of the work of Theodor W. Adorno in the Anglophone world. In the 70s and 80s he became a prominent figure as he helped introduce and comment, primarily in the United States and Germany, on the work of the Jacques Derrida and Jacques Lacan. In fact, he translated Jacques Derrida's 'Signature Event Context' (1977) and 'Limited, Inc.' (1988).

Weber also served as a dramaturge to German opera houses and theaters in Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Düsseldorf, and Ludwigsburg during the 1980s. One of his central interests is 'Theatricality' (what results when the impossibility of self-containment is exposed by iterability as a scene which is inevitably a 'stage', but which, as such, is determined by that which surrounds it...'theater'). His book Return to Freud: Jacques Lacan's Dislocation of Psychoanalysis (1978, 1991), originally written in German, has been groundbreaking in the fields of psychoanalysis and literary theory. Several of his books are being brought out by Beijing University Press in Chinese translation.