Ryan Brown

Wieboldt 219
Office Hours: Monday 1-2 p.m.
Advisor(s): Robert Morrissey
Research Interests: Enlightenment studies; Autobiography studies; Memory studies; Old Regime legal studies; Rousseau; Voltaire

I hold BAs with High Honors in French and in History from the University of California, Berkeley. My undergraduate thesis in French, titled “Jean-Paul Marat: homme des lumières”, received the Mousseau Award for Outstanding Honors Thesis in French. There, I explored the way in which Jean-Paul Marat reused ideas by philosophes such as Rousseau and Montesquieu in his revolutionary pamphlets in order to render his political beliefs appealing to his reading public. After graduation, I participated in TAPIF (Teaching Assistant Program in France) where I worked as an English Language Assistant at a high school in Pont-à-Mousson, France. I was also an exchange fellow at the École Normale Supérieure (rue d’Ulm, Paris) during the 2021-2022 academic year.  

In my dissertation, I explore the way in which the development of celebrity culture in the 1760s and 1770s fostered a need for two of the most famous people in Europe (Rousseau and Voltaire) to write their autobiographies, albeit radically different autobiographies. At the core of this study is an interest in the sense of a need to write an autobiography and how this need manifests itself within the text in order to reclaim the narrative of one’s life. I am also interested in the way in which the presentation of one’s life before the reader in these texts is shaped by judicial metaphors, and thus autobiography is an act of self-defense before the reader-judge.

Outside of my dissertation, my other research interests include: Gender and Sexuality in the 18th Century Novel (particularly in the works of Prévost, Diderot, Graffigny, and Sade); Revolutionary pamphlet literature; Louisiana French; Inclusive Pedagogy in the Foreign Language Classroom

Selected Publications

  • Brown, Ryan. “The Autobiographer as Jurist: Rousseau’s Confessions, the Practice of Judicial Proof, and the Court of Public Opinion.” Le Pouvoir En Procès. Opinion Publique et Légitimité Politique Des Lumières Au Premier Empire, edited by Maximilien Novak and Ryan Brown, Classiques Garnier, Paris. (2024).
  • Novak, Maximilien, and Ryan Brown, editors. Le Pouvoir En Procès. Opinion Publique et Légitimité Politique Des Lumières Au Premier Empire. Classiques Garnier. (2024). 

Recent Courses in RLL

  • FREN 10200 Beginning Elementary French (Autumn 2022)
  • FREN 10300 Beginning Elementary French (Winter 2023)
  • FREN 23724 Law and Letters in France (17th-20th Century) (Spring 2024)