Research and Teaching
M. Des., Graduate School of Design, Harvard University, 2015
Ph.D., Comparative Literature, Yale University, 2003
Ph.D. (Thèse de doctorat), American Studies, Université Paris-7, 2001
Ecole Normale Supérieure, rue d'Ulm, Paris (1990 L)
My research focuses on literary modernity, the avant-garde, urban transformation, and utopian architecture in the nineteenth and early twentieth century. I have made history and culture an integral part of my research, and have tried to emphasize an interdisciplinary approach in my teaching as well. I have also translated contemporary American poets into French.
Un Nouveau Monde Amoureux: Célibataires et prostituées au dix-neuvième siècle (Editions Galaade, 2010).
New York-Paris: Whitman, Baudelaire, and the Hybrid City (University of Michigan Press, 2012).
My first book, A New World of Love: Bachelors and Prostitutes in Nineteenth-Century France, explores the connection between bachelorhood and prostitution in nineteenth-century France. Writers such as Gustave Flaubert and Guy de Maupassant have been taken as representatives of “bachelor literature.” What many of these bachelor-writers have in common is a fascination with the phenomenon of prostitution. I explore this fascination so as to illuminate some of the key issues involved in the definitions of literary modernity and the avant-garde. My research for this book has been drawn not only from novels, poems, art, and writers’ correspondences, but also from philosophical essays, medical treatises, and police reports.
The book was reviewed in several French magazines and in the daily newspaper “Liberation.” It was also featured on several radio programs, such as “À plus d’un titre” on France Culture, in which I was interviewed on the themes I explore in my book.
In 2016, an Arabic translation of my book was published in Egypt by Sefsafa Publishing House in collaboration with the French Institute in Cairo.
My second book, New York-Paris: Whitman, Baudelaire, and the Hybrid City, centers on images of the mid-nineteenth century city in the poetry of Walt Whitman and Charles Baudelaire. In this book, I explore the complex interplay between poetic avant-gardes and urban culture, and look closely at the way poetry in the mid-nineteenth century reacted to the explosion of radically new forms of visual culture, such as dioramas, panoramas, and photography.
Current Research Project
I am currently working on a book-length manuscript with the title Glass Architectures: Charles Fourier and the Utopia of Collective Self-Surveillance. In this manuscript, I explore the link between surveillance and architectural utopias in early nineteenth-century France. In 2014, 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 Harvard. The manuscript is an expansion of my M. Des. thesis, on the basis of which I was awarded the Gerald M. McCue Medal for Highest Academic Achievement by the Harvard Graduate School of Design.
At Amherst College, I have taught French 207 (Introduction to French Literature and Culture) and French 208 (French Conversation), as well as a 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 the classes I have taught 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 Professor of Russian Catherine Ciepiela, and a class on cross-cultural exchanges between France and Japan ("Madame Butterfly Lives") with Professor of Asian Studies Tim van Compernolle.