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Laure A. Katsaros

Associate Professor of French

Departmental affiliations: European Studies; French


Research and Teaching

Submitted by Laure A. Katsaros on Tuesday, 9/22/2015, at 2:50 PM


Ph.D., Comparative Literature, Yale University, 2003

Thèse de doctorat, Université Paris-7, 2001

Ecole Normale Supérieure, rue d'Ulm, Paris (1990 L)


Research Interests

Broadly speaking, my research focuses on literary modernity, the avant-garde, urban transformation, and women's lives in the nineteenth and early twentieth century. I have made history and culture an integral part of my research, emphasizing an interdisciplinary approach to literature. I have also translated contemporary American poets, such as Franz Wright and Jack Gilbert, into French.


Selected Publications

 My first book, Un Nouveau Monde Amoureux: Célibataires et prostituées au dix-neuvième siècle (A New World of Love: Bachelors and Prostitutes in Nineteenth-Century France), was published by Editions Galaade in Paris in October 2010.

The book explores the connection between bachelorhood and prostitution in nineteenth-century France. Many celebrated writers of the time, such as Gustave Flaubert or Guy de Maupassant, have been taken as representatives of “bachelor literature.” What they also had in common was a fascination with prostitutes. My argument is that the bond between the male bachelor and the female prostitute in nineteenth-century literature and art illuminates some of the key issues involved in definitions of literary modernity and the avant-garde. My research for this book has been drawn from novels, poems, art, writers’ correspondences, philosophical essays, medical treatises, and police reports.

The book was reviewed in several French magazines and newspapers, such as the daily paper “Liberation.” It was also featured on several radio programs. For an interview on France-Culture (skip 30 mns. into the program), see: http://www.franceculture.fr/player/reecouter?play=3965381

For an essay on a related theme, see “Goncourt’s Dream: Night Terrors in La Fille Élisa,” French Forum Spring/Fall 2011, Vol. 36, Nos. 2–3, http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/french_forum/v036/36.2-3.katsaros.html


My second book, New York-Paris: Whitman, Baudelaire, and the Hybrid City, was published  by the University of Michigan Press in October 2012. The book centers on images of the mid-nineteenth century city in the poetry of Walt Whitman and Charles Baudelaire. Through these two iconic figures of literary modernity, I explore the complex interplay between poetic avant-gardes and urban culture.  I am particularly interested in the way poetry reacted to the explosion of radically new forms of visual communication, such as dioramas, panoramas, and photography, in the mid-nineteenth century.


Current research projects

I am currently at work on several articles about the life and works of Isabelle Rimbaud, the sister of the celebrated nineteenth-century French poet Arthur Rimbaud. After Rimbaud’s early death at the age of thirty-seven, Isabelle worked tirelessly, as his literary executrix, to promote an idealized image of her dead brother, while also becoming a writer in her own right.

I am also pursuing another research project, entitled "Glass Architectures: Charles Fourier and the Utopia of Collective Self-Surveillance," that explores the link between surveillance and architectural utopias in early nineteenth-century France. In the spring of 2015, I was awarded a "New Directions" fellowship from the Mellon Foundation, which funded a course of studies in the History and Philosophy of Design at the Graduate School of Design at Harvard. In the spring of 2015, I graduated from the program with the degree of Master of Design. The fellowship also funded  a research trip to visit the remains of nineteenth-century utopian architectural sites in France in the summer of 2015. I am currently working on a book manuscript drawn from my research at Harvard and my visit to the sites. 



At Amherst College, I have taught intermediate to advanced French language classes – French 207 (Introduction to French Literature and Culture) and French 208 (French Conversation), as well as  an advanced  translation course centered on contemporary French texts and documents (From Asterix to Houellebecq: Translating Contemporary French). My upper-level classes focus on nineteenth- and early-twentieth century French literature, culture, and art. Among those are “Agents Provocateurs: Scandalous French Artists, from Baudelaire to Céline,” “Women of Ill Repute: Prostitution in Nineteenth Century French Literature,” and “Enfants Terribles: Images of Childhood in Nineteenth Century French Literature and Art.” I have  co-taught a European Studies class on “The Birth of the Avant-Garde in France and Russia, 1870-1930” with Professor of Russian Cathy Ciepiela. I will be offering a new comparative class on the cross-cultural exchanges between France and Japan (Madame Butterfly Lives) with Professor of Asian Studies and Languages Tim van Compernolle in the spring of 2016 . 

New York-Paris

New York-Paris: Whitman, Baudelaire, and the Hybrid City. 2012.


Un nouveau monde amoureux -- A New World of Love

Submitted by Laure A. Katsaros on Wednesday, 7/25/2012, at 3:08 PM