Wolfram Schmidgen

Chair and Professor of English​
PhD, University of Chicago
MA, Free University Berlin
MA, Binghamton University
research interests:
  • Eighteenth Century Literature and Culture

contact info:

mailing address:

  • WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY
  • CB 1122
  • ONE BROOKINGS DR.
  • ST. LOUIS, MO 63130-4899

Professor Schmidgen's research focuses on the interplay between literature, law, philosophy, and science. He is working on an intellectual history of literary innovation in early eighteenth-century culture.

For more information, visit Wolfram Schmidgen's department profile.

Exquisite Mixture: The Virtues of Impurity in Early Modern England

Exquisite Mixture: The Virtues of Impurity in Early Modern England

In Exquisite Mixture: The Virtues of Impurity in Early Modern EnglandWolfram Schmidgen asks: when did the English, well-known for their pride in the deep Anglo-Saxon roots of their culture, begin to argue that English culture was great because it was mixed and impure? His answer begins with the realization that early-eighteenth-century Englishmen were becoming increasingly assertive about mixture as the cause of their nation’s virtues and perfections. They prized linguistic, literary, racial, and political differences. The origins of this striking appreciation of mixture can be found in the political and scientific revolutions of the seventeenth century. By retrieving early modern arguments for the civilizing effects of mixture, Schmidgen helps us confront the political and ethical limits of our current fascination with the idea of hybridity.