Larry Norman

Frank L. Sulzberger Distinguished Service Professor, Romance Languages and Literatures, Theater and Performance Studies, Fundamentals, and the College; Department Chair
Classics 115
Office Hours: By Appointment

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 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 study 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 a dialogue with other cultural phenomena, such as the contending conceptions through time of the classical tradition (Classicisms, 2017), 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 sièclesThe 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”).

Journal Issues Edited
  • Editor and introduction.  La recherche dix-septiémiste aux Etats-Unis.  Special issue on 17th-century French studies in the United States.  XVIIe siècle, 258 (65.1, Jan. 2013).
Selected Articles
  • “The Quarrel in the Long Eighteenth Century: From ‘Ancient and Modern’ to ‘Classical and Romantic’.” The Long Quarrel: Past and Present in the Eighteenth Century. Eds. J.Bos and J. Rotmans. Leiden: Brill’s Studies in Intellectual History, 2021: 16-34.
  • “Racine among the Phaedras” (co-authored w/David Wray). Teaching French Neoclassical Tragedy. Eds. H. Bilis and E. McClure. NY: Modern Language Association, 2021: 29-42.
  • Phèdre(s) scandaleuse(s).” Scandales de théâtre en Orient et en Occident, de la première modernité à nos jours. Ed. F. Lecercle and H. Ogura. Tokyo: Sophia University Press, 2021: 135-147.
  • Boileau, le sublime et la critique comparatiste au milieu du XXe siècle.” La figure de Boileau: représentations, institutions, méthodes (XVIIe-XXIe siècles). Eds. Ch. Pradeau and D. Reguig. Paris: Sorbonne Université Presses, 2020: 53-63.
  • “Racine, de la querelle des Imaginaires à la querelle des anciens et des modernes.” Revue Europe 1092 (special issue: “Jean Racine,” ed. A. Genetiot and T. Allonge), April 2020: 64-73.
  • The Baroque as Anti-Classicism: The French Case.” The Oxford Handbook of the Baroque. Ed. John D. Lyons. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2019: 623-641.
  • "Déclassiciser le classicisme français: La contestation transnationale du 'Grand Siècle'." Mineurs, Minorités, Marginalités au Grand Siècle. Ed. M. Teixeira Anacleto. Paris: Classiques Garnier, 2019: 333-342.
  • “La théâtrophobie et la « nouvelle philosophie » moderne: le cas de Jean Terrasson.”  Littératures classiques 99 (2019): 177-187.
  • "Qu’est-ce que le classicisme ? Étude comparée des vocabulaires critiques nationaux." Littératures classiques 96 (2018): 153-162.
  • “Un autoportrait ironique ? Pour une lecture comique de L’Impromptu de Versailles.” Le dramaturge sur un plateau: Quand l’auteur dramatique devient personnage.  Ed. Cl. Thouret. Paris: Classiques Garnier, 2018: 231-242.
  • “The Quarrel of the Ancients and Moderns.” A History of Modern French Literature: From the Sixteenth Century to the Twentieth Century. Ed. C. Prendergast. Princeton University Press, 2017: 269-290.
  • "Le classicisme, ou l'exception française: Auberbach, Curtius, Spitzer," Œuvres & Critiques, 41.1 (2016): 29-42.
  • "Le théâtre renaissant vu de l’âge classique: élaboration d’une distinction critique.” Le Texte en scèneLittérature, théâtre et théâtralité à la Renaissance. Eds. C. Cavallini and P. Desan. Paris: Classiques Garnier, 2016: 357-369
  • "La Querelle des Anciens et des Modernes, ou la métamorphose de la critique." Littératures classiques 86 (2015): 95-114.
  • "La pensée esthétique de Charles Perrault." XVIIE siècle, 264 (66.3, 2014): 481-492
  • “Contre l’interprétation: courants anti-herméneutiques au XVIIe siècle.” XVIIe siècle, 258 (65.1, Jan. 2013): 75-83.
  • "Comedy in the Seventeenth Century.”  Chapter in the Cambridge History of French Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2011: 274-283.
  • “Historiciser le sublime, ou le classicisme entre modernité et antiquité.”Revue d’Histoire Littéraire en France (RHLF), April-June (no 2) 2007: 347-357.
Awards, Honors, and Professional Experience
  • Visiting professorships at Université Paris-Sorbonne (2015), the Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris (2006), Université de Paris 7-Denis Diderot (2011), and Université Jean Monnet/Saint-Étienne (2019)
  • Deputy Provost for the Arts, University of Chicago, 2008-2013
  • Residential fellowship, Franke Institute for the Humanities, 2000-2001
  • Modern Language Association’s 2011 Aldo and Jeanne
 Scaglione Prize for French and Francophone Literary 
Studies (for The Shock of the Ancient)
Recent Courses in RLL
  • FREN 25000/35000 Molière (Winter 2019, Autumn 2021)
  • FREN 25910/FREN 35910 Racine (Autumn 2020)
  • FREN 26043 Versailles: Art, Power, Resistance and the Sun King's Palace (Spring 2019, Spring 2020)
  • FREN 26220/36220 Classicism and Romanticism (Winter 2018)
  • FREN 34420 Practices of Classicism in the French Seventeenth Century (Winter 2020)
  • FREN 35961 Versailles (Spring 2019, Spring 2020)
  • FREN 48017 Phaedras Compared: Adaptation, Gender, Tragic Form (Winter 2018)


Affiliated Departments and Centers: Committee on Theater and Performance Studies, France Chicago Center, Fundamentals