Howard L. Willett Professor in Romance Languages and Literature, History of Culture, and the College; French Undergraduate Adviser
Office: 
Wieboldt 410
Office Hours: 
By appointment
Phone Number: 
773.834.0354
Email: 
Education: 

Ph.D. in French, University of California, Davis (1984).

Program(s): French, Renaissance and Early Modern Studies (REMS)

Born in France, I was educated in my native country (Political Economy and Sociology) and in the USA (French literature). I have been at the University of Chicago since 1984 and held visiting positions at Harvard University, Université de Paris-Sorbonne, École des Chartes, Centre Supérieur de la Renaissance (Tours), and the Collège International de Philosophie (Paris).

Trained as a Sociologist in France, I became interested in the Sociology of Literature and historical approaches to literature when I arrived in California in 1980. My approach to literature is mainly contextual and interdisciplinary. During the last fifteen years my research has focused of Montaigne and the history of ideas in France  during the sixteenth century. My work intersects with sociology, history and philosophy. I am the general editor of Montaigne Studies, a journal published at the University of Chicago since 1988.

My teaching interests are Montaigne, Rabelais, sociological and historical approaches to the French Renaissance, Early Modern economic theories, nineteenth-century literature and philosophy, sociology of literature and culture. I also direct the European Civilization Core program at the University of Chicago in Paris Center.

Desan CV

 

Selected Publications (Books)

  • Naissance de la méthode: Machiavel, La Ramée, Bodin, Montaigne, Descartes (Paris: A.-G. Nizet, 1987).
  • Literature and Social Practice, co-editor with Priscilla Ferguson and Wendy Griswold (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1989).
  • Humanism in Crisis: The Decline of the French Renaissance, editor (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1991).
  • Les Commerces de Montaigne: le discours économique des Essais (Paris: A.-G. Nizet, 1992).
  • Penser l’Histoire à la Renaissance (Caen: Editions Paradigme, collection “L’Atelier de la Renaissance”, 1993).
  • L’Imaginaire économique de la Renaissance (Mont-de-Marsan: Editions Inter-Universitaires, collection “Littérature et Anthropologie”, 1993). New revised and enlarged edition (Paris: Presses de l’Université Paris-Sorbonne, 2002).
  • Montaigne, les Cannibales et les Conquistadores (Paris: A.-G. Nizet, 1994).
  • Literary Objects: Flaubert, catalogue of an exhibit at the Smart Museum, Chicago (Chicago: The David and Alfred Smart Museum of Art, The University of Chicago, 1996).
  • Montaigne dans tous ses états (Paris-Fasano: Schena, 2001).
  • Montaigne politique, editor (Paris: H. Champion, 2006).
  • Dictionnaire de Michel de Montaigne, general editor and author of 91 articles (Paris: H. Champion, 2004, revised and enlarged edition 2007).
  • Portraits à l’essai: Iconographie de Montaigne (Paris: H. Champion, 2007).
  • “Dieu à nostre commerce et société”: Montaigne et la théologie, editor (Geneva: Droz, 2008).
  • Montaigne. Les formes du monde et de l’esprit (Paris: Presses de l’Université Paris-Sorbonne, 2008).
  • Pensée morale et genres littéraires, co-editor with Jean-Charles Darmon (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 2009). 
  • Bibliotheca Desaniana. Catalogue Montaigne (Paris: Classiques Garnier, 2011).
  • L’Immoralité littéraire et ses juges, co-editor with Jean-Baptiste Amadieu and Jean-Charles Darmon (Paris: Hermann, forthcoming).
  • Cités humanistes, cités politiques (1400-1600), co-editor with Élisabeth Crouzet-Pavan and Denis Crouzet (Paris: Presses de l’Université Paris-Sorbonne, 2014).
  • Scepticisme et pensée morale de Michel de Montaigne à Stanley Cavell, co-editor with Jean-Charles Darmon and Gianni Paganini (Paris: Hermann, 2014).
  • Montaigne. Une biographie politique (Paris: Odile Jacob, 2014). 

 

Awards and Honors

  • Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et Lettres, 2011.
  • Prix de l’Académie Française (for the Dictionnaire de Montaigne), 2005.
  • Chevalier dans l’Ordre National du Mérite, 2004.
  • Médaille de Montaigne, given by the Université de Bordeaux (for work on Montaigne), 1995.
  • Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Palmes Académiques, 1994.
  • Médaille de la ville de Bordeaux, in commemoration of the Four Hundredth Anniversary of the Death of Montaigne (for work on Montaigne), 1992.