Robert St. Clair

|Associate Professor
Academic Appointments

Associate Professor of French


Dartmouth Hall, Room 319
HB 6087


French and Italian


  • B.A. Knox College
  • Licence, Université de Paris VII
  • M.A. Université de Franche-Comté
  • Ph.D. University of Minnesota

Selected Publications

  • Book

    Poetry, Politics, and the Body in Rimbaud: Lyrical Material (Oxford University Press, 2018).

    Bodies abound in Rimbaud’s poetry in a way that is nearly unprecedented in the nineteenth-century poetic canon: lazy, creative, rule-breaking bodies, queer bodies, marginalized and impoverished bodies, revolting and revolutionary, historical bodies. The question that this book seeks to answer is: what does this sheer, corporeal density mean for reading Rimbaud? What kind of sense are we to make of this omnipresence of the body in the Rimbaldian corpus from the earliest poems celebrating the simple delight of running away from wherever one is and stretching one’s legs out under a table, to the ultimate flight away from poetry itself? In response, it argues that the body appears – often literally – as a kind of gap, breach, or aperture through which Rimbaud’s poems enter into contact with history and a larger body of other texts. Simply put, the body is privileged “lyrical material” for Rimbaud: a figure for human beings in their exposed, finite creatureliness and in their unpredictable agency and interconnectedness. Its presence in the early work allows us not only to contemplate what a strange, sensuous thing it is to be embodied, to be both singular and part of a collective, it also allows the poet to diagnose, and the reader to perceive, a set of seemingly intractable, “real” socio-economic, political, and symbolic problems. Rimbaud’s bodies are, in other words, utopian bodies: sites where the historical and the lyrical, the ideal and the material, do not so much cancel each other out as become caught up in one another.

    Reviews of Lyrical Material

    Marshall Olds, H-France, Review of Poetry, Politics, and the Body...

    Daniel Finch-Race, Esprit créateur, Review of Poetry, Politics, and the Body...

    Thomas C. Connolly, French Forum, Review of Poetry, Politics, and the Body...

    Joseph Acquisto, French StudiesReview of Poetry, Politics, and the Body...

    Renaud Lejosne-Guigon, Acta FabulaReview of Poetry, Politics, and the Body...

    Frédéric Thomas, dissidences, Review of Poetry, Politics, and the Body...



    “The Commune, Today,” Nineteenth-Century French Studies—Special Issue: La Commune n’est pas morte49:3-4 (Spring-Summer 2021), 151-161.


    “Départs: entretien avec Jacques Rancière,” Nineteenth-Century French Studies—Special Issue: La Commune n’est pas morte…49:3-4 (Spring 2021), 162-172.

    "Known Unknowing: Review essay of Poetry's Knowing Ignorance," H-France Review , 10pp

    "Material Inscriptions - Charles Baudelaire and the Poetry of the Modern World," The Wiley-Blackwell Companion to World Literature, vol. 4, 1771-1919 (London: Wiley-Blackwell, 2020), 12pp.

    “Manières d’écrire, manières d’être (ensemble): l’Album zutique et la poésie de l’impropre,” in Rimbaud, Verlaine et zut: hommage à Jean-Jacques Lefrère, S. Murphy, ed. (Paris: Classiques Garnier, 2019), 451-466.

    "Nature, the City, and Other Lyrical Material: Baudelaire with Rimbaud," L'Esprit créateur 58:1 (2018), special issue: Baudelaire and Other People, Maria Scott and Alexandra Wettlaufer, eds., 59-73.

    "Dérèglements des sens de l'histoire: poétique et idéologie," Parade sauvage - numéro spécial: herméneutiques rimbaldiennes, Alain Vaillant, dir. (Paris: Classiques Garnier, 2018), 69-87.

    "Failure is Our Only Option: Or, Some Thoughts on Reading" - Incipit: Reading (Chambers)Nineteenth-Century French Studies, 45:3-4 (Spring-Summer, 2017), 122-130.

    "Introduction: Time for Idleness..." (with Dr. Audrey Evrard, Fordham University), Nottingham French Studies 55:1 (March 2016), 1-4.

    “Zut pictura poiesis: Lyric Relations and Legacies in Coin de table and the Sonnet du trou du cul,” in Poets as Readers in Nineteenth-Century France: Critical Reflections, Joseph Acquisto, Adrianna Paliyenko, and Catherine Witt, eds. ( London: IGRS, 2015), 149-168.

    “Reframing the Commune: Violence, Intertextuality, and Event in Tardi’s Cri du peuple,” Romance Notes, 55:1 (2015), 147-159.

    "Écrire, la main dans la main: de la fleur parodique au communisme littéraire – ‘Le Sonnet du trou du cul’,” Parade sauvage 25 (2015), 69-104. (Highly commended for the Society of Dix-neuviémistes Publication Prize - best journal article by an early career researcher, 2016)

    “Misères de la poésie – microlecture des économies de la violence dans Les Yeux des pauvres,” Lectures du Spleen de Paris, Steve Murphy, ed. (Rennes: Presses Universitaires de Rennes, 2014), 307-320.

    “Laughing Matter(s): Poetics, Politics, and Ethics of the (Utopian) Body in Rimbaud’s Effarés,”Romanic Review 104.1-2 (2014), 83-104. (Official Commendation, Malcolm Bowie Prize 2014)

    “Writing Poetry Against the Grain – or, What Can Be Seen in Les Yeux des pauvres,” French Forum 39.1 (2014), 49-63.

    “The Bomb in (and the Right to) the City: Batman, Argo, and Hollywood’s Revolutionary Crowds,” The International Journal of Žižek Studies 7:3 (Oct. 2013).

    “Le Désordre du val: réflexions sur la blessure de l’histoire et le temps révolutionnaire dans un sonnet de 1870,” Parade sauvage 23 (2012), 25-45.

    “Le Moderne absolu ? Rimbaud et la contre-modernité,” Nineteenth-Century French Studies 40: 3-4 (Spring-Summer 2012), 307-326.

    "'Soyons chrétiens!'? Mémoire, anticapitalisme et communauté dans Paris," La poésie jubilatoire: Rimbaud, Verlaine et l'Album zutique, Seth Whidden, ed. (Paris: Classiques Garnier, 2010), 241-260.

  • "Arthur Rimbaud - poésies, lettres du voyant" - (forthcoming)

    “Jules Vallès,” “Gustave Courbet,” "Prosper-O. Lissagaray," “Haussmann/Haussmannisation,” “Coin de table”, in Le Dictionnaire Verlaine, Arnaud Bernadet, ed. (Classiques Garnier, forthcoming 2018).

    “Regimes of Art,” in Understanding Rancière, Understanding Modernism, Patrick Bray, ed. (Bloomsbury Press, 2017), 255-260.

Speaking Engagements

Vanderbilt University, W.T. Bandy Center: "Romantic Beats: Some Notes on Poetry and (Literary Communities) from the Beat Hotel to the Hôtel des Etrangers...", 01 December, 2021


Works In Progress

A book-length study of forms, figures, and meanings of (historical) loss and defeats in French literary modernity (Baudelaire, Rimbaud, Verlaine, Flaubert, Vallès) tentatively entitled Constellations of Loss: Counter-Modernities in Nineteenth-Century French Literature. Article-length studies of the "gift" of poetry, Victor Hugo, and poetic politics in a poem by Baudelaire; the prose-poetics of rage, irony and history in a prose poem by Baudelaire; homotextuality as antidisciplinary poetics of resistance and sociocritically-queered rhymes in Verlaine ("Autre," and "Monsieur Prudhomme"); mourning and the matter of (in)significance in Flaubert's "Un coeur simple."

Co-editor, Parade sauvage (international journal of Rimbaud studies)

Edited Volumes and Translations

La Commune n'est pas morte - a special issue of Nineteenth-Century French Studies, co-edited with Seth Whidden.

Parade sauvage 31 (Winter 2021) - co-edited with Denis Saint-Amand

Parade sauvage 30 (Winter 2020) - co-edited with Denis Saint-Amand

Parade Sauvage 29, dossier spécial: Les autres (de) Rimbaud (Spring 2019) - co-edited with Denis Saint-Amand

Parade sauvage 28 (Spring, 2018) - co-edited with Denis Saint-Amand.

Parade sauvage 27 (Spring, 2017) - co-edited with Denis Saint-Amand.

Parade sauvage 26 (Spring, 2016) - co-edited with Denis Saint-Amand.

Nottingham French Studies 55: 1 (March 2016) - co-edited with Dr. Audrey Evrard (Fordham University).





Anne-Emmanuelle Berger, "Reading and its Discontents," Oxford Literary Review (forthcoming, Dec. 2022).

Benjamin Fondane, "Baudelaire and the Experience of the Abyss (excerpts)," in Baudelaire and Philosophy, Julia Ng and Alberto Toscano, eds. (Edinburgh University Press, forthcoming 2022).

Jean-Claude Milner, "The Poet on Strike against Society," Crisis and Critique: The Present of Poetry (forthcoming, 2022).

Jean-Luc Nancy, "Stoma," in Corpus III (New York: Fordham University Press, forthcoming 2022).

Jean-Luc Nancy, "Hegel at 250/ The Philosophy of Right," Crisis and Critique (forthcoming, 2022).

Jean-Luc Nancy, "Still too Human," Crisis and Critique 7:02 (2020), 265-270.

Jelica Šumič, "The For-All: Grappling With the Real of the Group," Crisis and Critique 06:01 (2019), 313-339.

Peter Brooks, “À la barre de l’Histoire,” Lectures de L’Éducation sentimentale de Gustave Flaubert, S. Murphy, ed. (Rennes: Presses Universitaires de Rennes, 2017), 359-381.

Daniel Zamoura, “When Exploitation Replaces Exclusion: The Condition of the Surplus Population under Neo-Liberalism,” (Fall 2013), 21pp.

Christian Haines, “Oscillations prolétaires: poésie du travail et travail de la poésie chez Whitman et Rimbaud,” Parade sauvage 23 (2012), 65-101.

Bruno Chaouat, “Have French Jews Veered to the Right?,” Politics and Culture 3:4 (January, 2011),

Fethi Benslama, “The Agony for Justice,” in Israeli-Palestinian Conflict in the Francophone World,” Nathalie Debrauwere-Miller, ed. (New York and London: Routledge, 2010), 123-141.

Anny Dayan Rosenman, “The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict in France: A Conflict in Search of Novelistic Representations,” in Israeli-Palestinian Conflict in the Francophone World,” Nathalie Debrauwere-Miller, ed. (New York and London: Routledge, 2010), 81-93.