School of Humanities and Sciences
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Professor of French and ItalianOn Leave from 01/01/2023 To 06/30/2023
Current Research and Scholarly InterestsMy current research focuses on France's contemporary political discourse; specifically the far right (National Front) and Presidential campaigns. I use digital humanities text analysis tools and semiotic/semantic/rhetoric analysis to look at political mythologies, communication strategies and representations of identity.
Past research projects include national sentiment and poetry; obscenity and obstetrics, lyric economies in Renaissance France.
William H. Bonsall Professor of French and Professor of Theater and Performance Studies, Emeritus
BioProfessor Apostolidès was educated in France, where he received a doctorate in literature and the social sciences. He taught psychology in Canada for seven years and sociology in France for three years. In 1980 he came to the United States, teaching at Harvard and then Stanford, primarily French Classical literature (the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries) and drama. He is interested in avant-garde artistic movements such as dada, surrealism, and situationist international; as well as the theory of image, literary theory, and Francophone literature. He is also a playwright, whose work has been staged in Paris, Montreal, and New York.
His literary criticism focuses on the place of artistic production in the French classical age and in modern society. Whether it be the place of court pageantry during the reign of King Louis XIV (Le Roi-Machine, 1981), or the role of theater under the ancien régime (Le Prince Sacrificié, 1985), or even the importance of mass culture in the 1950s (Les Métamorphoses de Tintin, 1984), in each case Professor Apostolidès analyzes a specific cultural product both in its original context and in the context of the contemporary world. His most recent books are Les Tombeaux de Guy Debordin 1999, L'Audience in 2001, Traces, Revers, Ecarts in 2002, Sade in The Abyss in 2003, Héroïsme et victimisation in 2003,Hergé et le mythe du Surenfant in 2004. The tools required for such analysis are borrowed from literary criticism and from the social sciences, particularly psychoanalysis, anthropology, and sociology.
In his books, Professor Apostolidès interprets the works of the past as witnesses of our intellectual and emotional life. His examination of the distant or near past seeks to make us more sensitive to the social changes that are taking place now, in order to improve our understanding of the direction in which contemporary society is moving.
Andrew B. Hammond Professor of French Language, Literature, and Civilization and Professor, by courtesy, of French and Italian and of Comparative Literature
Current Research and Scholarly InterestsProfessor Cohen has devoted her career to the literature and culture of modernity. Her books include Profane Illumination (1993) on the impact of surrealist Paris on Walter Benjamin; The Sentimental Education of the Novel (1999), on the role of women writers in shaping 19th-century French realism; and The Novel and the Sea (2010), about how writings about work at sea shaped the adventure novel. Her forthcoming book explores how underwater film and TV have shaped the cultural imagination.
J. P. Daughton
Professor of History and, by courtesy, of French and Italian
BioJ. P. Daughton is Professor of History, and Professor (by courtesy) of French and Italian. He is an historian of Europe, imperialism and colonialism, and global history. His teaching and publications explore political, cultural, social, and environmental history, as well as the modern history of religion, technology, and humanitarianism. His affiliations at Stanford include the Europe Center, the Center for African Studies, and the Center for Human Rights and International Justice.
His most recent book, In the Forest of No Joy: The Congo-Océan Railroad and the Tragedy of French Colonialism (W. W. Norton, 2021), tells the story of one of the deadliest construction projects in history. Between 1921 and 1934, French colonial interests recruited -- most often by force -- more than 100,000 men, women, and children to work on a 500-kilometer stretch of rail between Brazzaville and the Atlantic Coast. In the end, tens of thousands of Africans were dead, killed by mistreatment, starvation, and disease. The book painstakingly recounts the experiences of local communities in the face of colonial economic development, considers why the railroad witnessed such extraordinary violence and suffering, and explores how the rhetoric of "civilization" and "development" were used to justify the loss of so many African lives. In the Forest of No Joy has been shortlisted for the Cundill History Prize and the American Library in Paris Book Prize.
Daughton is also the author of An Empire Divided: Religion, Republicanism, and the Making of French Colonialism, 1880-1914 (Oxford University Press, 2006), a book that tells the story of how troubled relations between Catholic missionaries and a host of republican critics shaped colonial policies, Catholic perspectives, and domestic French politics in the decades before the First World War. Based on archival research from four continents, the book challenges the long-held view that French colonizing and “civilizing” goals were the product of a distinctly secular republican ideology built on Enlightenment ideals. A CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title, An Empire Divided was awarded the George Louis Beer Prize for the best book in international history from the American Historical Association, as well as the Alf Andrew Heggoy Book Prize from the French Colonial Historical Society.
He is also the editor, with Owen White, of In God’s Empire: French Missionaries in the Modern World (Oxford University Press, 2012), a collection of essays on the role played by French religious workers in the empire and beyond. His essays and reviews, on themes related to colonial violence, international governance, informal empire, and cultural policy, have appeared in publications like the Journal of Modern History, the American Historical Review, and French Historical Studies.
Daughton’s PhD advisees have written on a wide range of subjects, from nineteenth-century French cultural policies to the history of famine, and from alcohol consumption and violence in the First World War to the work of international NGOs in Algeria during decolonization. He is currently accepting graduate students interested in transnational history, modern Europe, empire, humanitarianism, international politics, and environment history.