Nils F. Schott’s primary research interests are eighteenth-century literature and philosophy, their legacies in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and their relevance today. His particular focus is on the role the theories, beliefs, and practices grouped under the heading “religion” play in the elaboration of a self-styled rational view of the world. In another major aspect of this work, he draws on the philosophy of time to shed new light on central concepts such as “conversion” and “revolution.”
These concerns figure prominently in his 2010 dissertation, The Conversion of Knowledge—Enlightenment and Religion in Eighteenth-Century Catechisms. This study is currently being revised for publication; parts have been published separately, in Paul and the Philosophers and in Words: Religious Language Matters. A companion text, The Political Theology of Secular Catechisms is just being drafted. Its readings of texts from the last two centuries (including Kleist, Comte, Engels, Joyce, Enzensberger, Ratzinger and al-Sistani) aim to show how catechisms in question-and-answer form articulate quintessentially modern approaches to the problems of human agency.
2015 saw the publication of two books co-edited by Nils: a volume on concepts and practices of love and forgiveness entitled Love and Forgiveness for a More Just World (with Hent de Vries, published by Columbia UP) and an edition and translation of Vladimir Jankélévitch's Henri Bergson (with Alexandre Lefebvre, published by Duke UP).
Nils is also a widely published translator of academic literature. Following the publication of Lambert Wiesing’s Artificial Presence (Stanford UP, 2009) and François Delaporte’s Figures of Medicine (published by Fordham), Henri Atlan’s Fraud was published by Stanford in 2013. Experimente im Individuum: Kurt Goldstein und die Fragen des Organismus by Stefanos Geroulanos and Todd Meyers, Speculative Drawing by Armen Avanessian and Andreas Töpfer, and The Helmholtz Curves by Henning Schmidgen came out in 2014. Three books by Avanessian Irony and the Logic of Modernity (de Gruyter, 2015), his Present Tense: A Poetics (Bloomsbury, 2015), which he co-wrote with Anke Hennig, and most recently Overwrite (Sternberg, 2017) followed.
Other projects are underway, including Interpreting Bergson, a collection of essays on Henri Bergson co-edited with Alexandre Lefebvre under contract at Cambridge UP, the translation of Helmuth Plessner's Macht und menschliche Natur (commissioned by the Helmuth Plessner Gesellschaft and slated to be published by Northwestern UP in October), as well as translations of Henning Schmidgen's Hirn und Zeit, Erich Hörl's Heilige Kanäle (for Amsterdam UP, forthcoming in October), Emmanuel Alloa's Das durchscheinende Bild (for Columbia UP), and selected essays by André Leroi-Gourhan (for the Bard Graduate Center).
The recipient of numerous research as well as teaching fellowships, Nils has taught across the humanities disciplines, from philosophy and literary studies via Jewish studies and gender studies to expository writing.