Assistant Professor of French and Francophone Studies
At Macalester I teach French language and literature at all levels but my primary field of research is eighteenth-century French literature and philosophy. My current research project explores the animal/human distinction in French thought during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, from the works of literary figures such as La Fontaine through to Rousseau and materialists such as Helvétius and Diderot. Above all, I am interested in the moral and political values attributed to the animal/human distinction in the Enlightenment and the extent to which Enlightenment conceptions of animality continue to shape attitudes toward empirical animals as well as uses of the animal as a figure in contemporary moral and political discourse. I am also familiar with recent work on the animal/human distinction by philosophers and critical theorists including Derrida, Deleuze, Giorgio Agamben, Donna Haraway, Peter Singer and Tom Regan. I taught a course titled "The Animal/Human Relation in the French Enlightenment" at Macalester in 2008 and will teach a version of the course again next year.
I am particularly interested in sharing perspectives with faculty from disciplines in the natural and social sciences. Although I attempt to link my historical interests in French Enlightenment thought with interests in contemporary critical theory and philosophy, the nature of my scholarly research is primarily textual and focused on humanities disciplines and methodologies. I would like to share my knowledge of my historical periods and theory with scholars working in the natural sciences and who are familiar with contemporary developments pertaining to animality and the relationship between animals and humans in fields including neuroscience, cognitive psychology, biology, and zoology. I would also like to exchange with social scientists who investigate lived relationships between animals and humans whether in the contemporary United States, in non-western societies, or in human prehistory.