Christopher Rivers

  • Professor Emeritus of French
Christopher Rivers

Christopher Rivers spent a recent sabbatical in Paris researching Georges Carpentier, the celebrated French boxer of the pre- and post-World War I era and light heavyweight champion of the world from 1920-1922. Rivers plans to write a book on Carpentier, using the story of the 1921 bout in which Carpentier challenged Jack Dempsey for his world heavyweight championship as the book's centerpiece.

Rivers is the author of Face Value: Physiognomical Thought and the Legible Body in Marivaux, Lavater, Balzac, Gautier, and Zola (University of Wisconsin Press, 1994). He recently edited Mademoiselle Giraud, ma femme (Modern Language Association of America, 2002) and also translated it into English. Rivers has also published numerous articles and book reviews, many of which focus on sexuality in literature during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Rivers taught both language and literature courses, including introductory and intermediate French; a senior seminar on literary translation; a topics course on the figure of the prostitute in French literature and culture entitled Love for Sale; and the intermediate-level Introduction to Contemporary Culture and Media of France and the French-Speaking World. His students consistently praise him as a "wonderful teacher!" One student notes that Rivers "made [her] love French again," while another states that he is "the best choice" one could make when choosing a professor.

In addition to his research and teaching, Rivers was dean of international affairs from 1997-2000. During his time as dean, Rivers established a new junior-year abroad program, sponsored by Mount Holyoke, in Montpellier, France. He also created academic exchange programs with Hong Kong University, Japan Women's University, University of Potsdam, and the Institut d'Etudes Politiques de Paris ("Sciences Po"), among others.

Areas of Expertise

Eighteenth- and nineteenth-century French novels and culture; literary translation; physiognomy; boxing


  • Ph.D., M.Phil., M.A., Yale University,
  • A.M., Middlebury College (Paris)
  • A.B., The American College in Paris

Happening at Mount Holyoke

Recent Campus News

Ten esteemed Mount Holyoke College faculty members have retired.