Gerhard F. Straßer
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Gerhard F. Straßer

Emeritus Professor of German and Comparative Literature



  1. .Ph.D. in Comparative Literature, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, 1974
  2. .Fulbright Lecturership at Trinity College, Hartford, CT, 1967-68
  3. .„Pädagogisches Staatsexamen für das Lehramt an Gymnasien,“ Regensburg, Germany, 1967
  4. .„Wissenschaftliches Staatsexamen für das Lehramt an Gymnasien,“ Munich, 1965
  5. .Studies at the Universities of Munich and Grenoble, 1959-65
  6. .Fulbright Scholarship at Rhodes College, Memphis, TN, 1960-61
  7. .“Abitur” (with distinction), Landshut, Germany, 1959


Dr. Strasser’s fields of specialization include the history of universal languages in the Early Modern Period; early cryptology; the history of the plague; (pseudo-)hieroglyphics; emblematics; travel accounts, and 17th-century polyhistors such as Athanasius Kircher or Johann Joachim Becher.

After teaching at Northwestern University from 1973 to 1979 and at Penn State in the Departments of Germanic & Slavic Languages & Literatures and in Comparative Literature, Dr. Strasser retired in 2004 after 25 years at Penn State as Professor emeritus and returned to Germany.  In the fall of 2012, he received the College of the Liberal Arts Emeritus Distinction Award.

Publications include Lingua UniversalisKryptologie und Theorie der Universalsprachen im 16. und 17. Jahrhundert (1988); Emblematik und Mnemonik der Frühen Neuzeit im Zusammenspiel: Johannes Buno und Johann Justus Winckelmann (2000); co-edited books: Johann Joachim Becher (1635-1682) (with Gotthardt Frühsorge, 1993) and Die Domänen des Emblems:  Außerliterarische Anwendungen der Emblematik (with Mara R. Wade, 2004).  In addtion, Dr. Strasser has published electronically, most recently: Jacques de Fonteny's Livre d'Enigmes - Manuscript of an Early 17th-Century Para-Emblematic, Illustrated Sonnet Sequence, URL: (2012), and an expanded version of a symposium lecture delivered at the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek discussing “Ansätze zu internationaler Verständigung durch konstruierte Sprachen“, URL: (2013).  In his retirement he co-organized a symposium at the Herzog August Bibliothek with Dr. Thomas Stäcker on "Bibliotheken und ihre Nutzer, 1650-1850" (2007) and has written major articles, which include "The Rise of Cryptology in the European Renaissance" in The History of Information Security: A Comprehensive Handbook (2007) or “Von der Lingua Adamica zur Lingua universalis“ in Diskurse der Gelehrtenkultur in der Frühen Neuzeit (2011). 

Dr. Strasser continues to present his ongoing research at major conferences, such as materials from the history of cryptology at NSA (2011, 2013) or at the Slovak Academy of Sciences (2017); universal languages (Munich; Ankara; Vienna); emblematics (Nancy, 2017); the plague (Mersin, Turkey) or on the Amish (Ankara; Hamburg). With Prof. Christian Biet, Université de Paris X, he is currently preparing the Fonteny material for print publication in French in the series, Classiques Garnier.