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Maîtrise, DEA, Université Paris III-Sorbonne Nouvelle
M.A., University of Illinois at Chicago
Ph.D., Northwestern University

Fields of Research:

18th-Century Literature, Print Culture, Authorship Studies, 18th-Century Aesthetics

Lorraine Piroux teaches Ancien Régime French literature and culture. Her research focuses on the material culture of literature, including Enlightenment print culture, authorship studies, and 18th-century aesthetics. Her book Moins que livres: essai sur l’illisibilité, du livre des Lumières à la boîte de Cornell (Éditions Nota Bene, 2010)  is a study of literary and artistic voices that have contested the ideal of ultra-legibility that has presided over the Western book-form since the Enlightenment. With these voices, the printed book is being torn, desecrated, reinvented, and tested against the irreducible materiality of the written sign, as if to alert us to the long-standing complicity between writing and the book-object. She is also the author of Le livre en trompe l’oeil ou le jeu de la dédicace (Editions Kimé, 1998) and several articles on Diderot, Rousseau, Graffigny, and Bernardin de Saint-Pierre. Her current project focuses on authorlessness and impersonal authorship in eighteenth-century prose and dramatic fiction.

In 2000-01, she was a fellow at Stanford Humanities Center, and she has received the William Riley Parker prize for her essay “The Encyclopedist and the Peruvian Princess: The Poetics of Illegibility in French Enlightenment Book Culture” (PMLA, January 2006).

She has been co-organizing the Rutgers Seminar on the History of the Book since 2007.

Books (click on image for details):



Other Publications:

  • "Who killed Mlle de la Chaux? Enlightenment Authorship and the Dangers of Historical Realism." MLN 127-4 (2012): 783-805. 

  • "Between a Hieroglyph and a Spatula: Authorlessness in Eighteenth-Century French Theater." Eighteenth-Century Studies 44-3 (2011): 345-59.

  • “Illegibility and Grammophobia in Bernardin de Saint Pierre’s Paul et Virginie, Visible Writings: Culture, Forms, Readings, eds. Mary Shaw and Marija Dalbello. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2011.

  • “The Encyclopedist and the Peruvian Princess: The Poetics of Illegibility in French Enlightenment Book Culture,” PMLA, Volume 121-1, January 2006, 107-123.

  • "Staged Truth and Travel Epistemology in La Lettre à d'Alembert sur les spectacles," Studies in Eighteenth-Century Culture 29, Volume 29, 2000, 155-72.

  • "I'm Black an' I'm Proud: Re-Inventing Irishness in Roddy Doyle's Commitments," College Literature, Volume 25.2, Spring 1998, 45-57.

Graduate Courses:

  • Figures of the Literary in Eighteenth-Century Book Culture
  • Diderot
  • Exoticism and the Enlightenment
  • Print Culture of the Ancien Régime
  • Theater in the Culture of Absolutism
  • Literary and Cultural Theory


Undergraduate Courses:

  • Literature and Politics in Eighteenth-Century France
  • Visions of America
  • Print Culture in Pre-Modern France
  • The Age of Enlightenment: Travel Literature in Eighteenth-Century France
  • The Invention of the French Novel
  • Reading, Writing, and Speaking Practices
  • Comedy in Pre-Modern France