Professor, French Literature, Theatre and Performance Studies, Fundamentals, and the College
Office: Classics 115
As a specialist in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century literature, theater and intellectual history, my work is driven by a concern with the dynamic interaction between texts and their aesthetic and historical framework. More specifically, I am interested in how individual works play in deeply surprising ways with social norms and literary expectations. In practice, these concerns led me from my first book on Molière, an examination of the contentious exchange between playwright and audience that gave birth to modern satirical comedy (The Public Mirror), to my recent book re-evaluating the creative conflict between ancient literature and early-modern ideals (The Shock of the Ancient: Literature and History in Early-Modern France). They have also led me, in a series of volumes that I have edited or co-edited, to place literary texts in an interdisciplinary dialogue with other cultural phenomena, such as the visual arts of the baroque (Theatrical Baroque), performance practices and their relation to print culture (Du Spectateur au lecteur: Imprimer la scène aux XVIe et XVIIe siècles; The Book in the Age of Theater: 1550-1750), and the long tradition of subversive readings of Homer from Lucian to Joyce (Révolutions homériques). In exploring these dialogues, I hope not only to shed light on crucial aspects of aesthetic and cultural history, but also to re-animate the original power of individual texts to provoke and disturb.
In my teaching, I aim to create broad interdisciplinary conversations. I have designed graduate seminars to engage not only in dialogues across research fields (such as “Réalisme classique,” “Re-Writing Homer in Early-Modern France,” “Lumières et Primitivismes,” and “Aesthetics of French Classicism”), but also to integrate scholarship with theatrical performance and curatorial practice (“The Theatrical Baroque” and “The Theatrical Illusion: From Corneille to Kushner”).