Professor Emeritus of French Literature; Graduate School Professor
Richard Klein, Professor Emeritus of French Literature, is the author of Cigarettes are Sublime (Duke), a cultural history of cigarettes, which has been translated into 14 languages. This book, like his more recent Eat Fat (Pantheon), is designed to bring the insights of critical theory to bear on contemporary social issues. More recently, he has published Jewelry Talks: A Novel Thesis (Pantheon), a fictional memoir and a theory of personal ornamentation, which takes many of its categories from the use of jewelry as a figure in nineteenth- and early twentieth-century French poetry. Professor Klein teaches poetry, modernism, and contemporary French thought. For many years he has been an Editor of diacritics, a journal of critical theory produced by the Department of Romance Studies. His most recent graduate seminar was devoted to Oulipo, the post-War group of authors in Paris whose formalist experiments in literary expression have grown increasingly influential. Professor Klein has an ongoing interest in the work of Jacques Derrida. Klein has recently focused his attention on troubadour poetry, written in Old Occitan, with its legacy of courtly love. His interests extend to the social and ideological conflicts out of which that poetry arose and declined in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries.