Valérie M. Dionne

The Oxford Handbook of Montaigne (2017)

This new volume from Oxford University Press includes essays on “Montaigne on Virtue and Ethics” by Valérie M. Dionne (Associate Professor), “Montaigne’s Travel Journal” by François Rigolot (Meredith Howland Pyne Professor Emeritus), and “Montaigne on Language” by Katie Chenoweth (Assistant Professor).





Mouhamédoul Niang

L’écriture de l’espace dans les littératures africaine et créoliste (2015)

This book sheds light on the writing of space as an existential site as well as a reflection of identities in fictional works by Mongo Beti, Ahmadou Kourouma, Aminata Sow Fall, and Patrick Chamoiseau. It underscores the trope of spatial polarization, along with its modalities and outcomes. Such polarization takes place in the urban setting, as it is the case in Sow Fall and Chamoiseau’s novels. It also occurs within the nascent post-colonial African nation-state or in communities in which the clanic or ethnic discourse of identity takes precedence over nationalistic or progressist understanding of the self.  The latter paradigm comes forth in Kourouma and Beti’s fictional works, respectively. Niang’s book highlights a praxis of spatial representation grounded on a paradigmatic polarization that enables these authors to celebrate specific sociocultural practices as components of a given identity. However, the progressist characters depicted in these works strive to overlook, these celebrated pratices. A third space emerges from the spatial dichotomy these writers put on the literary stage. This third space becomes the medium through which they transcend such polarization. Whereas Kourouma uses this third space to celebrate linguistic hybridity in Les Soleils des indépendances, Chamoiseau and Sow Fall turn it into a site that fosters the poetics of reconciliation in Solibo Magnifique and L’appel des arènes, respectively. In the case of the Cameroonian writer, Beti, the third space by which he transcends any polarizing discourse around identity takes shape through the quest of a new existential and anonymous place.


Adrianna M. Paliyenko

Genius Envy: Women Shaping French Poetic History, 1801-1900 (2016)

In Genius Envy, Adrianna M. Paliyenko uncovers a forgotten history: the multiplicity and diversity of nineteenth-century French women’s poetic voices. Conservative critics of the time attributed the phenomenon of genius to masculinity and dismissed the work of female authors as “feminine literature.” Despite the efforts of leading thinkers, critics, and literary historians to erase women from the pages of literary history, Paliyenko shows how these female poets invigorated the debate about the origins of genius and garnered considerable recognition in their time for their creativity and bold aesthetic ideas.

This fresh account of French women poets’ contributions to literature probes the history of their critical reception. The result is an encounter with the texts of celebrated writers such as Marceline Desbordes-Valmore, Anaïs Ségalas, Malvina Blanchecotte, Louisa Siefert, and Louise Ackermann. Glimpses at the different stages of each poet’s career show that these women explicitly challenged the notion of genius as gender specific, thus advocating for their rightful place in the canon.

A prodigious contribution to studies of nineteenth-century French poetry, Paliyenko’s book reexamines the reception of poetry by women within and beyond its original context. This balanced and comprehensive treatment of their work uncovers the multiple ways in which women poets sought to define their place in history.


Gianluca Rizzo

On the Fringe of the Neoavantgarde / Ai confini della Neoavanguardia, Palermo 1963- Los Angeles 2013

On October 17th 2013, a group of young scholars and writers gathered in Los Angeles to commemorate another meeting (a much more fateful one) that had taken place in Palermo fifty years earlier, on October 3rd 1963 to be exact, at the Hotel Zagarella and the Sala Scarlatti of the Conservatorio. Back then, the main attraction had been the Festival Internazionale della Musica Nuova, a long-established music festival that had brought to Sicily some of the most interesting experiments from all over the world. An investigation on the latest developments in contemporary literature, the organizers thought, would have made a nice addition to the events already planned: it was the beginning of the ‘avant-garde by wagon-lit,’ as Umberto Eco famously (and humorously) dubbed it. Fifty years later, and over ten thousand miles away, that same avant-garde is still inspiring a lively discussion, the end of the line being nowhere in sight.