School of Humanities and Sciences
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Professor of French and Italian
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 in 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 current book shows how underwater film film and TV have shaped the cultural imagination.
J. P. Daughton
Associate Professor of History and, by courtesy, of French and Italian
BioI am an historian of modern Europe and European imperialism with a particular interest in political, cultural, and social history, as well as the history of humanitarianism.
My 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 the strategies defenders of the train used to justify the loss of so many African lives.
I am 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. By exploring the experiences of religious workers, one of the largest groups of French men and women working abroad, the book argues that many “civilizing” policies were wrought in the fires of discord between missionaries and anti-clerical republicans – discord that indigenous communities exploited in responding to colonial rule. A CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title, An Empire Dividedwas 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.
Professor of French and Italian and, by courtesy, of Political Science
BioProfessor Jean-Pierre Dupuy is a Professor of Social and Political Philosophy at the École Polytechnique, Paris. He is the Director of research at the C.N.R.S. (Philosophy) and the Director of C.R.E.A. (Centre de Recherche en Épistémologie Appliquée), the philosophical research group of the École Polytechnique, which he founded in 1982. At Stanford University, he is a researcher at the Study of Language and Information (C.S.L.I.) Professor Dupuy is by courtesy a Professor of Political Science.
In his book The Mechanization of the Mind, Jean-Pierre Dupuy explains how the founders of cybernetics laid the foundations not only for cognitive science, but also artificial intelligence, and foreshadowed the development of chaos theory, complexity theory, and other scientific and philosophical breakthroughs.
William H. Bonsall Professor in French and Professor, by courtesy, of History
Current Research and Scholarly InterestsMy current research lies in the fields of intellectual history, political thought, and digital humanities (DH). I recently published a book that explores the history of rights from the Wars of Religion to the Age of Revolutions; I'm currently working on a book that explores the intellectual history of revolution; I have a number of papers on Rousseau's political thought underway; and I continue to work on a number of DH projects.
Ubaldo Pierotti Professor of History and Professor, by courtesy, of French and Italian
BioI have taught the early history of science and medicine for many years on the premise that one of the most important ways to understand how science, medicine and technology have become so central to contemporary society comes from examining the process by which scientific knowledge emerged. I also take enormous pleasure in examining a kind of scientific knowledge that did not have an autonomous existence from other kinds of creative endeavors, but emerged in the context of humanistic approaches to the world (in defiance of C.P. Snow's claim that the modern world is one of "two cultures" that share very little in common). More generally, I am profoundly attracted to individuals in the past who aspired to know everything. It still seems like a worthy goal.
My other principal interest lies in understanding the world of the Renaissance, with a particular focus on Italy. I continue to be fascinated by a society that made politics, economics and culture so important to its self-definition, and that obviously succeeded in all these endeavors for some time, as the legacy of such figures as Machiavelli and Leonardo suggests. Renaissance Italy, in short, is a historical laboratory for understanding the possibilities and the problems of an innovative society. As such, it provides an interesting point of comparison to Gilded Age America, where magnates such as J.P. Morgan often described themselves as the "new Medici," and to other historical moments when politics, art and society combined fruitfully.
Finally, I have a certain interest in the relations between gender, culture and knowledge. Virginia Woolf rightfully observed at the beginning of the twentieth century that one could go to a library and find a great deal about women but very little that celebrated or supported their accomplishments. This is no longer true a century later, in large part thanks to the efforts of many scholars, male and female, who have made the work of historical women available to modern readers and who have begun to look at relations between the sexes in more sophisticated ways. Our own debates and disagreements on such issues make this subject all the more important to understand.