Catherine LeGouis

Professor of French, on leave spring 2019
Specialization: 
Nineteenth- and twentieth-century French and Russian literature

Catherine Le Gouis, a comparatist by training, teaches French language and literature. Her seminars have included Nouvelle Vague film, Victor Hugo's “Les Misérables”, Proust's “À la recherche du temps perdu”, the French detective novel, and a first-year seminar, “Reading The New Yorker.” She has also taught comparative courses on French and Russian literature, such as “The Influence of Anxiety: Dostoevsky and France.” In spring 2020 she will offer a new course designed to provide students with a French perspective on current affairs and up-to-the-minute access to French culture, using as its main source the leading newspaper Le Monde.

Her research areas include the Russian Silver Age, comparative studies on French and Russian literature, and 19th century European literary history. Le Gouis writes and speaks on the fin-de-siècle decadent movement in Europe, on Proust, and on Russian women who lived in France, such as Marie Bashkirtseff, Nina Berberova, and Elsa Triolet. She is the author of “Positivism and Imagination” (Bucknell University Press) and has edited, in collaboration with two colleagues from Smith College, “Mon Histoire: Mémoires d'une femme de lettres russe à l'époque des Lumières” (L'Harmattan, Paris), the autobiography of Princess Dashkova, a lady-in-waiting to Catherine the Great and one of the preeminent Russian intellectuals of the 18th century (she was, notably, a friend of Benjamin Franklin's). Le Gouis also published an article on decadence and ritual, “The Woman on the Cross,” in The Russian Review.

Currently, Le Gouis is working in Moscow archives and libraries on a biography of Nina Petrovskaya, a Russian essayist and muse to major poets of the Russian Silver Age. For this project, she has received two IREX grants, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities. For her next project, she plans a multiple biography of six lesser-known but representative figures of the Silver Age.

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