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English Faculty

Virgil P. Nemoianu – W.J. Byron Distinguished Professor of Literature and Ordinary Professor of Philosophy, member of the Comparative Literature Program



Dr. Virgil Nemoianu is William J. Byron Distinguished Professor of Literature and Ordinary Professor of Philosophy at CUA, where he has taught since 1979 and held the positions of Director of the Comparative Literature Program (1979–1994) and Associate Academic Vice-President for Graduate Studies (1989–1991). Dr. Nemoianu has also taught at the Universities of Bucharest, California (Berkeley), Cincinnati, London, Cambridge, and Amsterdam. He has held leading positions in the International Comparative Literature Association, the Modern Language Association and the Association of Literary Critics and Scholars; he is a member of the European Academy of Arts and Sciences (Vienna). 

Dr. Nemoianu's chief fields of research interest and accomplishment are European Romanticism, the intellectual history of the 19th and 20th Centuries, and aesthetic theory. Dr. Nemoianu has written, edited, or translated 16 books, written over 600 articles and reviews, and given more than 65 lectures in Europe, America, Africa, and Asia. His publications include The Taming of Romanticism: European Literature and the Age of Biedermeier (Harvard, 1985), The Theory of the Secondary: Literature, Progress and Reaction (Johns Hopkins, 1989), The Triumph of Imperfection: The Silver Age of Sociocultural Moderation in Early Nineteenth-Century Europe (University of South Carolina Press, 2005), and Postmodernism and Cultural Identities: Conflicts and Coexistence (CUA Press, 2010).

Over the years, Dr. Nemoianu has received numerous grants and fellowships from foundations such as Humboldt, Fulbright, DAAD, NEH, USIA, Taft, Earhart, University of California Regents’ Fellowship, Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin and the University of Georgia Center. Among his awards are the Vatican Library Medal (1998), the “Harry Levin” Award of the American Comparative Literature Association (1986), the ARA Prize for Literature (1989), the Catholic University of America Excellence Award for Research (1987), the Award for Memoir-Writing of the Writers’ Union of Romania (1995) and the Award for Life-Long Achievement of the Romanian Cultural Foundation (1997). The Romanian president awarded Dr. Nemoianu the country's highest civilian award the Order of the Star of Romania (Steaua României) in the rank of commander (2010).



Scholarly books in English

Postmodernism and Cultural Identities. Conflicts and Coexistence (2010)

Imperfection and Defeat. The Function of Aesthetic Imagination in Human Society (2006)

The Triumph of Imperfection. The Silver Age of Sociocultural Moderation in Early 19th Century Europe (2006)

Theory of the Secondary. Literature, Progress and Reaction (1989) Romanian transl. 1997

The Taming of Romanticism. European Literature and the Age of Biedermeier (1984); Romanian transl. 1998, 2004

Micro-Harmony. The Growth and Uses of the Idyllic Model in Literature (1977)

Scholarly books (in English) edited or co-ordinated

Non-Fictional Romantic Prose. Expanding Borders (2004; with Steven Sondrup)

Play, Literature, Religion. Essays in Cultural Intertextuality (1992; with Robert Royal)

The Hospitable Canon. Essays on Literary Play, Scholarly Choice, and Popular Pressures (1991; with Robert Royal)

Two issues each of Stanford Literature Review (1980s) and RNL/CWR (1990s) – guest editor.

Books of literary, philosophical and cultural criticism (in Romanian)

Romania as Seen by Us. Conversation in Berlin with Sorin Antohi (România noastr?. Convorbiri berlineze cu Sorin Antohi), 2008, 2009

Calm wisdom. Dialogues in Cyberspace with Robert Lazu (În?elepciunea calm?. Dialoguri în cyberspace cu Robert Lazu), 2002

Tradition and Freedom (Tradi?ie ?i libertate), 2001

The games of divinity. Thought, Freedom and Religion at the millennium’s end, 2000

Romania and her liberalisms (România ?i liberalismele ei), 1999

The smile of abundance. Lyrical knowledge and ideological models in ?tefan Aug. Doina?’s work, 1994

The useful and the pleasant (Utilul si pl?cutul), 1973

The calm of values (Calmul valorilor), 1971

Structuralism (Structuralismul), 1967


Office: 120 Marist Annex 
The Catholic University of America
620 Michigan Ave.
Washington, D.C. 20064

Phone: 202-319-5488



  • ENG 699: Postmodern Novel
  • ENG 702: Modern Trends in Criticism
  • ENG 715: Literary Criticism and Religion
  • ENG 880: Seminar: Evelyn Waugh and the Modern English Novel


Ph.D., University of California, San Diego, 1971

doctor honoris causa, University of Cluj, Romania, 2003

Areas of Expertise

  • Literary Theory
  • Romanticism
  • 19th- and 20th-century intellectual history
  • 20th-century literature
  • Religion and literature