Max Kade Center

The Max Kade Center for Modern German Thought explores the political, cultural, historical, and philosophical associated with the German discourse on knowledge. The center serves as an interdisciplinary forum that brings together scholars from the arts and sciences as well as engineering, music, and medicine.

The university as we know it today would be inconceivable without the contributions of modern German thought, which laid the groundwork for the American liberal arts curriculum.

A key concern of the center is how the various fields at the university have come to define their object of inquiry. This question lies at the heart of several disciplines that either originated in Germany and Austria or were strongly influenced by German-speaking intellectuals. These disciplines include: anthropology (Gehlen, Boas); classical and comparative philology (Auerbach, Wilamowitz, Wolf, Mommsen); psychology (Freud, Bühler, Ernst Mach); physiology (Helmholtz, Wundt); physics (Einstein, Helmholtz); mathematics (Gauss, Riemann); sociology (Simmel); history (von Ranke); and art history (Panofsky, Warburg).

An equally important concern of the center is the future of the liberal arts and the German model of higher education in the face of grave challenges like:

  • the emergence of for-profit universities,
  • the rising cost of education,
  • the replacement of the actual classroom with online instruction,
  • the increasing demand for professional training at the undergraduate level.

Who is Max Kade?

Max Kade portrait

Max Kade (1882-1967) was a successful pharmaceutical entrepreneur and philanthropist. Originally from Schwäbisch Hall, he came to North America in the early 1900s, first to Montreal and then settling in New York. He and his wife, Annette Marie Baudais, established the Max Kade Foundation in 1944, originally to help victims of World War II and to save and preserve works of art and other German cultural artifacts. The Foundation continues to support and promote German and German-American cultural understanding through grants that support libraries, research, student housing and meeting places at academic institutions across the United States and in Europe. It is through a generous grant from the Max Kade Foundation that the Max Kade Center for Modern German Thought at Johns Hopkins is able to pursue its mission.

Center Faculty


Rochelle Tobias
Professor, Section Chair
Modern Languages and Literatures

Steering Committee

Jane Bennett
Political Science

William Egginton
Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities
Spanish and Latin American Literatures

Eckart Förster

Peter Jelavich

Katrin Pahl
Assistant Professor
Modern German Thought and Literature

Affiliated Faculty

Wilda Anderson
Modern Languages and Literatures (French)

Jennifer Culbert
Political Science

Michael Fried
History of Art

Mitchell Merback
History of Art

Dean Moyar

Stephen Nichols
Modern Languages and Literatures (French)

Matthew Roller

Erica Schoenberger
Geography and Environmental Engineering

Bernadette Wegenstein
Modern Languages and Literatures, and Media Studies