Faith E. Beasley

Academic Appointments

Professor of French

My work as a scholar and a teacher focused first on resurrecting the works and voices of French women writers primarily from the early modern period, a key period of French and western civilization, and putting these works and voices in dialogue with those of their contemporaries and situating them in their literary and historical context.  I then moved to interrogating the effect women actions had on the cultural field in general, and to analyzing how and why the historical record has been constructed to erase this influence.  Recently I have extended these questions in order to interrogate French engagement with the world, in particular India, during the early modern period.  In my most recent book, Versailles Meets the Taj Mahal, I examine the effect early encounters with India had on French literature, culture, and the history of ideas.  I locate the dissemination of the concept of India in salon culture, explores how one salon served as the focal point for the encounter between France and India during France’s Grand Siècle and the effect of this encounter on early Enlightenment thought, material culture, and literature.   

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            My work cuts across the traditional disciplinary boundaries of history and literature, although I consider myself first and foremost a literary critic who also specializes in the history of ideas. I do not consider myself to be an historian because my expertise is not the constructing of historical "facts" but rather the analysis of language and rhetoric.  I analyze how texts, historical and literary, represent a reality. I analyze how culture takes shape discursively. 

In addition to my scholarly monographs and articles, I have produced a number of works dedicated to how we teach the early modern period.  I argue in particular that women writers should not be either taught or examined as a separate category but rather as integral components of the Republic of Letters in general.  the editor of Options for Teaching Seventeenth and Eighteenth-Century French Women Writers (MLA 2011) and co-editor with Katherine Ann Jensen of Approaches to Teaching The Princess of Clèves (MLA 1998). I served as the editor of Cahiers du dix-septième for almost a decade. 

In addition to teaching and research, I have directed foreign study programs in France and India and organized a number of international conferences.  I have held a variety of positions in organizations such as the Modern Language Association, most recently being appointed to the Editorial committee of PMLA, the North American Society of Seventeenth-Century French Literature, and SE-17, (past president of each), Women in French, and lectured throughout the US and Europe.  I was the editor for Cahiers du dix-septième, for almost ten years.  I was the recipient of a Guggenheim fellowship in 2012-13 to support the research and writing of Versailles Meets the Taj Mahal.  

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201C Dartmouth Hall
HB 6087
French and Italian
Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
B.A. Mount Holyoke College
Paris, L’Ecole Normale Supérieure
Ph.D. Princeton University

Selected Publications

Book Chapter: "De Grandes cultures se rencontrent: Conversations indiennes à l'époque classique" in French Global: Une nouvelle perspective sur l'histoire littéraire. Eds. Christie McDonald and Susan Suleiman. Paris: Classiques Garnier, 2014.

Book Chapter: “Versailles Meets the Taj Mahal” in French Global: A New Approach to French Literary History , eds. C. McDonald and S. Suleiman, (2010).

Book: Options for Teaching Seventeenth and Eighteenth-Century French Women Writers, (ed.) (2011)

Book: Salons, History, and the Creation of Seventeenth-Century France: Mastering Memory , (2006)

Book: Approaches to Teaching the Princess of Clèves , co-edited with K A Jensen, (1998).

Book: Revising Memory: Women’s Fiction and Memoirs in Seventeenth-Century France , (1990).

Article: "Versailles Meets the Taj Mahal" in French Global: A New Approach to French Literary History, eds. Christie McDonald and Susan Suleiman, Columbia University Press, 2010.

Article: "Salons and Curiosity: Encounters with India," in Origines: Actes du 39e congrès annuel de la North American Society for Seventeenth-Century French Literature. eds. Thomas Carr and Russell Gamin. Tübingen: Gunter Narr Verlag, 2009: 345-353.

Article: "La Voix des ombres: les femmes et la création du/au XVIIe siècle" in La littérture, le XVIIe siècle et nous: dialogue transatlantique, ed. Hélène Merlin-Kajman. Presse universitaire de la Sorbonne Nouvelle, 2008.

Article: "Salons and Innovation." Options for Teaching Seventeenth and Eighteenth-Century French Women Writers, MLA 2011, pp. 64-75.

Article: "Roger Chartier" article for the Columbia History of Twentieth-Century French Thought, ed. Lawrence Kritzman, New York, Columbia University Press, 2005, pp. 480-482.

Article: "Memoirs" article for the Companion to Women's Historical Writing, ed. Mary Spongberg, London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005, pp. 330-339.

Article: "Marguerite Buffet and la sagesse mondaine" in Actes de Virginia, ed. by John Lyons, Tubingen, Gunter Narr: Biblio 17, 2003, pp. 227-235.

Article: "Elèves et collaborateurs: Les Lecteurs mondains de Mme de Villedieu" in Madame de Villedieu romancière: Nouvelles Perspectives de recherche, edited by Edwige Keller, Lyon: Presses Universitaires de Lyon, 2004, pp. 175-198.

Article: "Catherine Bernard", for The Dictionary of Literary Biography: Seventeenth-Century French Writers, Ed. Françoise Jaouên, New York: Bruccoli Clark Layman, 2003, pp. 39-43.

Article: "Altering the fabric of history: Women's participation in the classical age," Chapter on Seventeenth-Century France for A History of Women's Writing in France from the Middle Ages to the Present, ed. Sonya Stephens, Cambridge University Press, 2000, pp. 64-83.

Article: "The Voices of Shadows: Lafayette's Zayde" in Going Public: Women and Publishing in Early Modern France, eds. Elizabeth Goldsmith and Dena Goodman, Cornell University Press, 1995, pp. 146-160.

Article: "Un Mariage Critique: Zayde et De L'Origine des Romans," XVIIième Siècle, octobre-décembre 1993, no. 181, no. 4, pp. 687-704.

Book:  Versailles Meets the Taj Mahal:  François Bernier, Marguerite de La Sablière and Enlightening Conversations in Seventeenth-Century France. Toronto:  University of Toronto Press, 2018

article:  “Changing the Conversation:  Re-positioning the French Seventeenth-Century Salon,” in L’Esprit créateur, “Writing/Creating in the Feminine in Early Modern France (1500-1700),” ed. Colette Winn, Vol. 60, No. 1 (2020), pp. 34–46.

article:  “Decentering the European Imaginary:  A Baroque Taste for India,” in The Oxford Handbook of the Baroque.  Ed. John D. Lyons. Oxford:  Oxford UP, 2018.

article:  “Réseaux mondains et création littéraire,” in Lendemains:  Etudes comparées sur la France, volume titled “Du genre de la littérature” eds. Lieselotte Steinbrügge and Hendrik Schlieper. Vol 41, no. 162/163, January 2016, 137-49.

chapter:  “The Enchantements of Eloquence:” Salon Culture and the French Fairy Tale Tradition,” in Teaching Fairy Tales, ed. Nancy Canepa, Wayne State University Press, 2019.

Book:   Options for Teaching Seventeenth and Eighteenth-Century French Women Writers, New York: Modern Language Association, 2011.

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Works in progress

Biography of Marguerite de La Sablière

Translation of François Bernier's travels to India