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Research


Research interests:

JoinvilleAs you have probably realized by now, I am a medievalist/early modernist. I am primarily interested in medieval historical writings (chronicles, annals, memoirs, and diaries). I am also fascinated by the idea of authorship in the Middle Ages, with everything that revolves around it (anonymity, scribal interventions, individual or collective authorship, authorial self-expression, and authority).

Please visit this page if you want to know more about my publications on medieval topics. You can also scroll down to find out more about my past research projects and my favorite medieval links.

Ph.D. Dissertation (Honors, 2007):

The Emergence of the Author in French Medieval Historiography

Committee: Prof. Nancy Freeman Regalado (Director), Prof. Evelyn Birge Vitz, Prof. Brigitte Miriam Bedos-Rezak

Readers: Prof. Michel Beaujour, Prof. Jindrich Zezula

Writing against the post-structuralist idea of the “death of the author,” I analyze the emergence of the author in French prose chronicles from the early 13th to the late 15th century. My dissertation presents a general overview of the evolution of French medieval chronicles, and it is also the first comprehensive scholarly study on the representation of the author in historiography. I contend that a radical shift occurred in the historiography of the 14th century, when vernacular historians started claiming the title of author. Concurrently, late medieval historians increasingly shifted the focus of the narrative from royal, national, or universal history to their personal story.

Thirteenth-century chroniclers such as Robert de Clari, Geoffroy de Villehardouin, Henri de Valenciennes, and Philippe de Novare would have hardly called themselves authors, since for them this term referred primarily to Latin auctores. The phrase that describes them best is perhaps “story tellers.” As narrators, early medieval historians tend to be self-effacing. Furthermore, they represent themselves primarily in the third person, which conveys a sense of impartiality and historical objectivity.

In contrast, the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries represent a period increasingly interested in authorship. It is generally clerics such as Froissart, and an educated woman such as Christine de Pizan who elaborate the idea of authorship and call themselves authors. The knight-chronicler Philippe de Commynes will be considered a major historical author by 16th-century editors. Late medieval chroniclers also become increasingly self-assertive, and portray themselves exclusively in the first person. The use of the first person allows for a more subjective historiography, as well as for various “writings of the self” (which I call autographies). These chroniclers invented the memoir genre, and opened the way for autobiographical writing in French literature.

By analyzing medieval chroniclers through a variety of methodological perspectives (the chroniclers’ relationship to orality and writing, and their self-portrayal as characters, eyewitnesses, and narrators), this dissertation aims to bring the idea of the author back into the focus of contemporary critical interest.

DEA Dissertation (2002):

“Langage et contexte anthropologique dans les chroniques du XIIIe siècle,” DEA in French Literature (ENS-LSH and Université Lumière Lyon 2)

Research websites:

Sites about the Middle Ages:

Medieval Literature:

Miscellanea mediaevalia: