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Laure A. Katsaros

Associate Professor of French

(On Leave 1/1/2015 - 6/30/2015)

Departmental affiliations: European Studies; French


Courses in Spring 2015

  • Laure A. Katsaros is on leave during the Spring 2015 semester.

Research and Teaching

Submitted by Laure A. Katsaros on Wednesday, 4/9/2014, at 8:46 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 French and American poetry of the nineteenth and twentieth century, as well as on literary modernity, the avant-garde, urban transformation, and women's lives. 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. In this new book project, I hope to shed light on this bizarre story of posthumous fraternal obsession.

I am also pursuing another research project, provisionally entitled 'Glass Architectures: Utopian Surveillance from Fourier to the Surrealists,' that explores the themes of self-surveillance and architectural utopias in the French literary and philosophical tradition. With the support of a "New Directions" fellowship from the Mellon Foundation, I will be studying architectural history at Harvard in 2014-15 and traveling to utopian architectural sites in France in the summer of 2015.



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). I also offer classes 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 also co-taught a European Studies class on “The Birth of the Avant-Garde in France and Russia, 1870-1930” with Prof. of Russian Cathy Ciepiela. I am currently preparing a new translation course centered on contemporary French texts and documents, as well as a new comparative class on turn-of-the-century France and Japan with Professor of Asian Studies and Languages Tim van Compernolle. 

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