Karl F. Otto, Jr.

Professor Emeritus of Germanic Languages and Literatures


Ph.D., Northwestern University

Karl F. Otto, Jr. is Emeritus Professor of Germanic Languages and Literatures. Since taking early retirement in 2002, he has held short term appointments at Bloomsburg University (Bloomsburg PA) and Cornell University (Ithaca NY).

Author of many studies dealing with German Baroque Literature, Otto specializes in language societies and their members, especially the Deutschgesinnete Genossenschaft and its founder, Philipp von Zesen, with strong secondary interests in bibliographical work, language pedagogy, and second language acquisition. He has published articles in leading journals on the area of the Sprachgesellschaften, on women in the Sprachgesellschaften, and on various other Baroque topics, dealing with authors as diverse as Grimmelshausen, Opitz, Zesen, Nützel, Daniel and Christoph Klesch, Scherertz, and others.

His current research projects include a history of the Klesch family, many members of which, having been forced into religious exile because of the Counterreformation in their native Zips area in Hungary (now Slovakia), went to Germany, where they became deeply involved in the literary, cultural, and religous life of the time.

Long an enthusiastic teacher of both undergraduate and graduate students, Otto frequently uses a small group approach, both for class discussions and for papers and projects. Otto has been involved in the American Council on Teaching of Foreign Languages’ Oral Proficiency Interview since 1983. Currently he is a certified tester in both English and German and also trains others in interviewing techniques in both languages. If you'd like to know what oral proficiency is all about, why not come and learn from the master!

Otto currently resides in Evanston IL, near Northwestern University. Besides playing the occasional game of skat or bridge, he spends his spare time, of which he seems to have precious little, cooking, entertaining, and doing genealogical research for himself and for hire. Swimming and the occasional sauna visit round out a busy schedule.

Research Interests

Baroque literature, Sprachgesellschaften, language pedagogy