Romance Languages and Literatures

Esther Van Dyke

Graduate Student


Program: French and Francophone Studies


Sublime Racine: Theatrical Practices of the Ineffable


Current Student

Esther is a third-year PhD student working on 17th century French literature with Prof. Larry Norman. Her current research interests focus on the evolution of aesthetics in the 17th century, specifically that of the sublime. The sublime was first clearly theorized by Boileau in 1674 as the ineffable effect found in discourse, although it is not linked to any specific rhetorical style. Esther argues that Racine practiced the sublime, bringing it outside of its traditional discursive milieu and into the realm of theater through powerful dramatic effects, including spoken discourse, written word, silence, or even visual representation of character bodies on stage.

She is also interested in the role aesthetics play in genre, the intersection of the je ne sais quoi and the sublime, and the power of taste to conduct social change.