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 studies what the modern imagination of the undersea owes to underwater film and TV.
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 first book, An Empire Divided: Religion, Republicanism, and the Making of French Colonialism, 1880-1914 (Oxford University Press, 2006) 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.
My current project, entitled Humanity So Far Away: Violence, Suffering, and Humanitarianism in the Modern French Empire, places the successes and failures of colonial “civilizing” projects within the broader context of the development of European sensibilities regarding violence, global suffering, and human rights. Based on research in archives on five continents, Humanity So Far Away explores the central role human suffering played as an experience, a moral concept, and a political force in the rise and fall of French imperialism from the late 1800s to the 1960s. The book also considers how colonial practices increasingly intersected with efforts to establish norms of humane behavior – efforts most often led by non-state and international bodies, especially the League of Nations and the International Labor Organization. Drawing on the methods of political, cultural, and intellectual history, my research ultimately aims to explore concretely the extent to which notions about empathy and humanitarianism spread (or failed to spread) from Europe to the outermost reaches of the globe in the twentieth century.
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.
Associate Professor of French and Italian and, by courtesy, of German Studies
BioMarisa Galvez specializes in the literature of the Middle Ages in France and Western Europe, especially the poetry and narrative literature written in Occitan and Old French. Her areas of interest include the troubadours, vernacular poetics, the intersection of performance and literary cultures, and the critical history of medieval studies as a discipline. At Stanford, she currently teaches courses on medieval and Renaissance French literature and love lyric, as well as interdisciplinary upper level courses on the medieval imaginary in modern literature, film, and art.
Her first book, Songbook: How Lyrics Became Poetry in Medieval Europe (University of Chicago Press, 2012, awarded John Nicholas Brown Prize from the Medieval Academy of America), treats what poetry was before the emergence of the modern category, “poetry”: that is, how vernacular songbooks of the thirteenth to fifteenth centuries shaped our modern understanding of poetry by establishing expectations of what is a poem, what is a poet, and what is lyric poetry itself. The first comparative study of songbooks, the book concerns three vernacular traditions—Occitan, Middle High German, and Castilian—and analyzes how the songbook emerged from its original performance context of oral publication, into a medium for preservation, and finally became a literary object that performs the interests of poets and readers.
Her second book, The Subject of Crusade:Lyric, Romance, and Materials, 1150-1500 (University of Chicago Press, 2020) examines how the crusader subject of vernacular literature sought to reconcile secular ideals about love and chivalry with crusade. This study places this literature in dialogue with new ideas about penance and confession that emerged from the second half of the twelfth century to the end of the thirteenth. Subject argues that poetic articulations are crucial for understanding the crusades as a complex cultural and historical phenomenon, and examines another version of speaking crusades, in which lyric, romance and materials such as tapestries, textiles, and tombstones manifest ambivalence about crusade ideals.
Johannes Gumbrecht (test)
Albert Guerard Professor of Literature and Professor of Comparative Literature, Emeritus
BioHans Ulrich Gumbrecht is the Albert Guérard Professor in Literature in the Departments of Comparative Literature and of French & Italian (and by courtesy, he is affiliated with the Department of Iberian and Latin American Cultures/ILAC, the Department of German Studies, and the Program in Modern Thought & Literature). As a scholar, Gumbrecht focuses on the histories of national literatures in Romance language (especially French, Spanish, and Brazilian), but also on German literature, while, at the same time, he teaches and writes about the western philosophical tradition (from a "non-analytic" perspective) with an emphasis on French and German nineteenth- and twentieth-century texts. In addition, Gumbrecht tries to analyze and to understand forms of aesthetic experience in 21st-century everyday culture. Over the past forty years, he has published more than two thousand texts, including books translated into more than twenty languages. In Europe and in South America, Gumbrecht has a presence as a public intellectual; whereas, in the academic world, he has been acknowledged by nine honorary doctorates in six different countries: Canada, Denmark, Germany, Hungary, Portugal, and Russia . He has also held a number of visiting professorships, at the Collège de France, University of Budapest, Universidade de Lisboa, University of Manchester, Université de Montréal, Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro, and Catholic University of Santiago de Chile.
Rosina Pierotti Professor of Italian Literature
BioProfessor Harrison received his doctorate in Romance Studies from Cornell University in 1984, with a dissertation on Dante's Vita Nuova. In 1985 he accepted a visiting assistant professorship in the Department of French and Italian at Stanford. In 1986 he joined the faculty as an assistant professor. He was granted tenure in 1992 and was promoted to full professor in 1995. In 1997 Stanford offered him the Rosina Pierotti Chair of Italian Literature. In 2002, he was named chair of the Department of French and Italian. In 2006 he became a member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. In 2014 he was knighted "Chevalier" by the French Republic. He is also lead guitarist for the cerebral rock band Glass Wave.
Professor Harrison's first book, The Body of Beatrice, was published by Johns Hopkins University Press in 1988. The Body of Beatrice was translated into Japanese in 1994. Over the next few years Professor Harrison worked on his next book, Forests: The Shadow of Civilization, which appeared in 1992 with University of Chicago Press. This book deals with the multiple and complex ways in which the Western imagination has symbolized, represented, and conceived of forests, primarily in literature, religion, and mythology. It offers a select history that begins in antiquity and ends in our own time. Forests appeared simultaneously in English, French, Italian, and German. It subsequently appeared in Japanese and Korean as well. In 1994 his book Rome, la Pluie: A Quoi Bon Littérature? appeared in France, Italy, and Germany. This book is written in the form of dialogues between two characters and deals with various topics such as art restoration, the vocation of literature, and the place of the dead in contemporary society. Professor Harrison's next book, The Dominion of the Dead, published in 2003 by University of Chicago Press, deals with the relations the living maintain with the dead in diverse secular realms. This book was translated into German, French and Italian. Professor Harrison's book Gardens: An Essay on the Human Condition appeared in 2008 with the University of Chicago Press, and in French with Le Pommier (subsequently appeared in German and Chinese translations). His most recent book Juvenescence: A Cultural History of Our Age came out in 2014 with Chicago University Press. In 2005 Harrison started a literary talk show on KZSU radio called "Entitled Opinions." The show features hour long conversations with a variety of scholars, writers, and scientists.
Andrew B. Hammond Professor in French Language, Literature and Civilization, and Professor of Comparative Literature and, by courtesy, of English
BioJoshua Landy is the Andrew B. Hammond Professor of French, Professor of Comparative Literature, and co-director of the Literature and Philosophy Initiative at Stanford, home to a PhD minor and undergraduate major tracks in Philosophy and Literature.
Professor Landy is the author of Philosophy as Fiction: Self, Deception, and Knowledge in Proust (Oxford, 2004) and of How To Do Things with Fictions (Oxford, 2012). He is also the co-editor of two volumes, Thematics: New Approaches (SUNY, 1995, with Claude Bremond and Thomas Pavel) and The Re-Enchantment of the World: Secular Magic in a Rational Age (Stanford, 2009, with Michael Saler). Philosophy as Fiction deals with issues of self-knowledge, self-deception, and self-fashioning in Proust's A la recherche du temps perdu, while raising the question of what literary form contributes to an engagement with such questions; How to Do Things with Fictions explores a series of texts (by Plato, Beckett, Mallarmé, and Mark) that function as training-grounds for the mental capacities.
Professor Landy has appeared on the NPR shows "Forum" and "Philosophy Talk" (on narrative selfhood and on the function of fiction) and has on various occasions been a guest host of Robert Harrison's "Entitled Opinions" (with Lera Boroditsky on Language and Thought, with Michael Saler on Re-Enchantment, with John Perry and Ken Taylor on the Uses of Philosophy, and with Alexander Nehamas on Beauty).
Professor Landy has received the Walter J. Gores Award for Teaching Excellence (1999) and the Dean's Award for Distinguished Teaching (2001).
Rosina Pierotti Professor in Italian Literature, Emerita
BioProfessor Carolyn Springer came to Stanford in 1985 after receiving a Ph.D. in Italian language and literature from Yale University. She has received fellowships and awards from the American Academy in Rome, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Harvard Center for Italian Renaissance Studies / Villa I Tatti, the Ford Foundation, and the Fulbright Foundation. Her research has focused primarily on Renaissance and nineteenth-century literature and cultural history. She has published articles and reviews in Annali d’italianistica, Boundary 2: A Journal of Postmodern Literature, Canadian Journal of Italian Studies, Forum Italicum, GRADIVA: International Journal of Literature, The International Journal of the Humanities, Italian Quarterly, The Italianist, Italica (Journal of the American Association of Italian Studies), Modern Language Studies, NEMLA Italian Studies, Quaderni d’italianistica, Renaissance Quarterly, Sixteenth Century Journal, Stanford Italian Review, Versus: Quaderni di studi semiotici, Woman’s Art Journal, The Wordsworth Circle, and Yale Italian Studies. Professor Springer’s books include The Marble Wilderness: Ruins and Representation in Italian Romanticism, 1775-1850 (Cambridge University Press, 1987; reprinted in paperback, 2010); Immagini del Novecento italiano (Macmillan, coeditors Pietro Frassica and Giovanni Pacchiano); and History and Memory in European Romanticism (special issue of Stanford Literature Review). Her latest book, Armour and Masculinity in the Italian Renaissance, appeared in 2010 with University of Toronto Press (reprinted in paperback, 2013).
Assistant Professor of French and Italian
BioSarah Prodan is an Italianist, an early modernist and a Michelangelo scholar. Her primary research and teaching contributions center on Italian literature and cultural history of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.
Her first monograph, Michelangelo’s Christian Mysticism: Spirituality, Poetry and Art in Sixteenth-Century Italy (Cambridge University Press, 2014), was awarded the Jeanne and Aldo Scaglione Publication Award for a Manuscript in Italian Literary Studies by the Modern Language Association in 2013. Literary, cultural and historical in scope, this study considers the Florentine artist’s poetics and aesthetics in light of medieval and Renaissance Augustinianism, lay religious culture, and the Italian Reformation, respectively, to provide a more nuanced understanding of Michelangelo’s spirituality and how it functioned.
Her current book project, Poetics of Piety in Early Modern Italy and Beyond, builds on this earlier work to consider the ways in which male and female poets of devotional verse engaged the Word in text, image, and imagination in the sixteenth century. Combining diachronic and synchronic approaches to the study of early modern Italian verse, this project examines relations among religious practice and poetic form in the pre-Tridentine and post-Tridentine periods.
Other book-length projects include Friendship and Sociability in Premodern Europe: Contexts, Concepts and Expressions (Toronto: CRRS, 2014), a co-edited volume that explores ideas and instances of friendship in premodern Europe through a well-ordered series of investigations into amity in discrete social and cultural contexts related to some of the most salient moments and expressions of European history and civilization: the courtly love tradition, Renaissance humanism; the Reformation, the Counter-Reformation and the attendant confessionalization and wars of religion; Jesuit missions; the colonization of America; and lastly, expanding trade patterns in the Age of Discovery.
Prior to joining Stanford, Prodan was a postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of History at Harvard University and at the Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies at Victoria University in the University of Toronto, where she designed and taught early modern cultural history courses and lectured on Italian language and literature.
In parallel to her scholarly pursuits, Prodan is completing a work of historical fiction inspired by her academic research. Taking the dramatic events of the French invasion of Italy in the fall of 1494 as its context, Imminence: Florence, 1494 recounts the riveting and tumultuous history of the dangerously divided Florentine city-state through the experiences of a lay female visionary temporarily resident in an elite nunnery tied to the highest echelons of political power. An imagined female story seamlessly inserted into a famously documented male history, Imminence weaves strands of verisimilitude with threads of reality, to offer a tapestry of fiction and non-fiction that touches on persistent human challenges – personal, social, and political. An exercise in empathic historical imagination, this novel explores women’s political, social, cultural, and religious history during the exciting and pivotal moment of the Italian Renaissance.
Assistant Professor of French and Italian
BioFatoumata Seck is a literary scholar with an interdisciplinary background. She specializes in francophone African and Caribbean studies with an emphasis on cultural and diaspora studies, postcolonial theory and political economy. Her research brings together literary criticism, anthropological theory, and various approaches to materialism to investigate the impact of economic thought and economic processes on Senegalese works of fiction. Her book manuscript "Materialized Imaginaries: Fiction, Economy and the Postcolony" develops methodologies for studying the influence of post-colonial neoliberal reforms on the Senegalese social fabric through the examination of both cultural production and cultural practice. It establishes how Senegalese writers, filmmakers, and artists have engaged in humanistic ways of rethinking economic ideologies and practices through fictional narratives as well as way in which these works inform notions of value, debt, money, and capital.
Seck is a former Assistant Professor at the City University of New York, College of Staten Island (CUNY/CSI) where she has taught and conducted research on literature, film, and cultures of the francophone world and the African diaspora and served as coordinator for the French program. Seck holds a Ph.D. in French with a minor in anthropology and a certificate in African Studies from Stanford University as well as degrees from the University of Georgia and Université Jean Moulin Lyon III. Seck is a native Wolof and French speaker; her teaching cuts across various geographical areas and linguistic traditions (Wolof, French, English, Spanish and Portuguese) and is informed by critical theory on race, gender and ethnicity. In addition to courses about francophone cultures and societies offered at the Division of Literature Cultures and Languages (DLCL), Seck offers courses about the African diaspora in Europe and the Americas at the Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity (CSRE). She is also a Center for African Studies (CAS) affiliate faculty member with projects and courses that engage the landscape of African humanities. Her work has been featured in different venues such as The Journal of African Cultural Studies, The Journal of Haitian Studies, Études Littéraires Africaines and Le Monde Afrique.