I work on premodern literature and history in French, the resurgence of their figures and forms in modern and contemporary cultures. My method: an equal focus on verbal and visual art.
Migrants Shaping Europe, Past and Present: Multilingual Literatures, Arts and Cultures, co-edited with Vincent Joos, came out in November 2022, in print and Open Access. This collective volume and years-long collaborative project was launched to combat the misnomer of a crisis in 2015, and aims to contribute the thinking of humanists to the debate around migration. Its focus: the cultural history of contact zones where romance languages are spoken : Calais, Ceuta & Melilla, Lampedusa, Sicily & Somalia.
Timely Fictions, the book I’m currently completing, composes an almanach for our times with major premodern forms of fiction. The book is supported generously by the Guggenheim Foundation.
Medieval Roles for Modern Times is my first essay in this style of historical research. The book tests the case of theater – the aesthetics and politics of mystery plays performed by generations of the Great War and World War II. Awarded a National Humanities Center grant, it’s translated and adapted in French: Un Moyen Âge républicain.
My seminars revolve around debate. I ask students at all levels to develop their critical imagination. We work in French. Students tell me often that adopting another language can free you to express what you’re discovering about the world –and yourselves – in a new way. This debate regularly involves collaborators; in recent years, we’ve worked with fellow-scholars and writers in Paris and Beirut, journalists and human-rights activists in Tunis, artists in Bandjoun and New York.
Image: Belleville; photograph by CL Krueger
Home page image: Michael Healy, Seascape