Professor of French Literature; French Undergraduate Adviser
Office: 
Wieboldt 223
Phone Number: 
773.702.4129
Email: 
Program(s): French and Francophone Studies

 

A native of Haiti, I was educated in Canada (Université du Québec à Montréal) and the United States (Johns Hopkins University and Emory University) and pursued an academic career in the U.S. (University of Kentucky, Dartmouth College).

I have been dealing with the formation of literary institutions, the correspondence between literature, art, and cultural history in France throughout the history of Print culture.  These topics are particularly relevant to nineteenth-century studies and to literary studies beyond the nineteenth century because they contribute significantly to understanding the impact of many social and political conflicts that have transformed, and are still transforming, our cultural spirit. In my first book La Figure du bibliomane: histoire du livre et stratégie littéraire au XIXème siècle (2001), I argue that collecting books in the nineteenth century became not only a legitimate intellectual occupation but also the front line of defense in the battle against the cultural amnesia provoked by the Revolution. From museums to libraries, sciences to arts, I am always fascinated by the history and the very existence of all kinds of collections. My most recent book is on Alexandre Dumas (2014), in which I examined the many ways Dumas both embraces and constantly moves the borders of romantic discourse, History, Memoirs, Gastronomy, and Autobiography. I propose to reveal some new facets of the author, his relationship to literary life and death and artistic celebrity, his phantasms of writing, his recollections of General Dumas and Bonaparte during the Egypt campaign, his incredible thirst for historical events.

Trained as a dixneuviémiste, I am also investigating, as a second direction of research, the historic-anthropological link between French and Caribbean literature and culture after the Haitian Revolution. Consequently, this comparative analysis allows me to explore the impact of books on many social and political conflicts that have transformed, and are still transforming, the dynamics of culture in the West Indies.  More broadly, I am interested in transatlantic history of ideas in the late eighteen, nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, comparative analysis of history and literature, the development of new Francophone cultural institutions in the 19th century, eyewitness accounts of the Haitian Revolution, slavery in Haiti, Literature and spirituality (voodoo), race and gender (particularly in the late 18th century).  That led me to examine closely the cultural and political intricacies between North America and Haiti in the nineteenth century, which led me in turn to develop a series of seminars, in which I compare the romantic sensibility in France with the creative appropriation of this nineteenth-century literary movement in various contemporary Caribbean. This ongoing project aims to encourage a broader, more diverse understanding of French and Francophone studies.  

I am currently completing a collection of essays on contemporary French Caribbean novelists titled La ruse du Livre, as well as a critical edition of Frédéric Marcelin’s groundbreaking novel Thémistocle Épaminondas Labasterre (1901).

Selected publications:

Books:

Alexandre Dumas, fabrique d’immortalité, Paris: Classiques Garnier, 2014.

Mémoires du Général Toussaint Louverture, (A Critical Edition), Paris: Classiques Garnier, 2011. 

La Figure du bibliomane: histoire du livre et stratégie littéraire au XIXème siècle, Paris: Librairie Nizet, 2001.

 

Selected recent courses:

  • Alexandre Dumas (1802-1870):Nègre et Écrivain.
  • Anténor Firmin: de l’égalité des races humaines.
  • Caribbean Fiction: Self-Understanding and Exoticism. 
  • Égalité des races dans la francophonie.
  • L'Ordre du temps: Mémoires, Histoire et Autobiographie.
  • Les Revenants: histoire, fiction et société au 19e siècle.
  • Le Livre antillais: culture, écriture et politique.
  • Fin-de-Siècle haïtien : Frédéric Marcelin.