Diana Reese received her Bachelor of Arts degree in comparative literature from the University of California at Berkeley. She holds a Master’s degree in Germanic languages and literature and a doctorate in comparative literature from Columbia University. As a graduate student, she taught all levels of the German language and Columbia’s Literature Humanities course. Since earning her Ph.D., she has taught German literature at Cornell and Harvard. Her research interests include Enlightenment and Romantic era philosophy and literature, early 20th-century aesthetics, and the points of contact between poetic and natural form.
In 2010, she pursued her lifelong interest in plants and ecosystems and dedicated herself to a two-year full-time program in horticulture at the New York Botanical Garden. Since then, she has divided her time between gardens (Wave Hill, Russel Wright’s Woodland Garden, Teatown Lake Reservation) teaching the German language (Columbia, John Jay), and teaching Literature Humanities (Columbia). She believes the three practices are closely allied. Literature calls upon us to hear language anew, to plumb its hidden structures and potentialities, and it presents us with imaginative arrangements that reconstrue our sensuous being, as do gardens.
Diana Reese’s current research focuses on the relationship between writing and embodied experience in the Anthropocene. Her published works include Reproducing Enlightenment: Paradoxes in the Life of the Body Politic (de Gruyter, 2009), “A Troubled Legacy: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and the Inheritance of Human Rights” (Representations, Fall 2006) and “Aporias of Free Trade: The Nature of Biodiversity” (Radical Philosophy, 2008). Recent translations include Walter Benjamin’s radio plays and Passagesfor Artforum.