Skip to main content

Alexander Schmidt

Visiting Associate Professor of European Studies
DAAD Professor
(he / him / his)

Contact Information
245 Buttrick Hall

Friedrich Schiller University Jena


  •     History of human rights
  •     Enlightenment
  •     History of political thought

Alexander Schmidt is our DAAD Visiting Associate Professor of European Studies at Vanderbilt University, starting in January 2021. He has held visiting professorships and fellowships at Chicago, Cambridge, and the University of Edinburgh. His work focuses on the history of German political thought, especially the long eighteenth century, with an emphasis on the intersection between ideas of human nature, legal thought, and aesthetics. His first peer-reviewed monograph Vaterlandsliebe und Religionskonflikt: Politische Diskurse im Alten Reich 1555-1648 (Brill, 2007) researches humanist ideas of love of fatherland and their impact on political debates in early modern Germany.

He is interested in the engagement of early modern and modern writers with Greek and Roman moral and political thought. His articles have appeared in  The Historical Journal ,  History of Political Thought, Modern Intellectual History, History of European Ideas, Francia, and a number of edited volumes. His forthcoming second monograph Might and Right: Natural Law and its Other in the History of German Political Thought studies the challenge to theories of natural law by materialist moral philosophy, skepticism, and the problem of political power. Schmidt has also edited Friedrich Schiller’s On the Aesthetic Education of Man  (Penguin Classics, 2016) and is currently completing an edition of Schiller’s essays on universal history for Princeton University Press. Before coming to Vanderbilt he has taught intellectual history at the Friedrich Schiller University Jena in Germany, where he also received his Ph.D. in philosophy in 2005.