Professor of French, Francophone & Comparative Literature
In his research, Laurent Dubreuil aims to explore the powers of literary and artistic thinking at the interface of social thought, the humanities and the sciences. Dubreuil's scholarship is broadly comparative and makes use of his reading knowledge in some ten languages. Professor Dubreuil is the founding director of the Humanities Lab, a place for reflexive dialogues between practitioners from the sciences and the discursive disciplines who wish to eschew reductionism.
At the École normale supérieure, Paris, and in other French universities, Prof. Dubreuil received training in most fields pertaining to the humanities, with a particular emphasis on French, Francophone and Comparative Literature (doctorate: 2001), Philosophy (doctorate: 2002), and Classical Philology. His professors and advisors included Jacques Derrida, Hélène Cixous, Umberto Eco and Pierre Judet de La Combe. In his years as a Mellon New Directions Fellow, Dubreuil acquired further competencies in Cognitive Science.
Dubreuil is the author of thirteen books. Among his scholarly essays, five are available in English, most recently Poetry and Mind (Fordham UP: 2018) and Dialogues on the Human Ape (U of Minnesota P: 2019: co-authored with primatologist Sue Savage-Rumbaugh). Five other volumes have been released in French, including (in 2019) Baudelaire au gouffre de la modernité (Hermann), La dictature des identités (Gallimard). Dr. Dubreuil also authored three “creative” literary essays in French. In 2016, Anthony Mangeon edited L’empire de la littérature, an anthology of previously unreleased texts on and by Dubreuil.
Dubreuil has worked extensively for academic journals and served as Editor of both diacritics and Labyrinthe, collecting articles on a wide range of topics, from comics to primatology, from negative politics to Asia. Current book projects include: an essay on contemporary literary writing in French (Comment écrire aujourd'hui, forthcoming in 2021); an inquiry on transcultural comparisons and cosmopolitanisms in a more than global world (forthcoming in Chinese in 2022); an investigation on the theoretical concept of the soul: a commented text anthology to be co-edited with Marc Aymes on methods in the humanities and social sciences.
Under the aegis of the Humanities Lab, Dubreuil co-leads with Cathy Caruth the ongoing Ape Testimony Project, a digital archive featuring hours of video interviews of individuals who established a rapport with other great apes beyond the species barrier. Dubreuil directed and edited most of the films on this repository. He also recently directed Nos premiers séminaires, a 50-min documentary movie devoted to the five decades of Hélène Cixous's research seminar (premiered in an international conference held in Paris in 2019), as well as an audiovisual companion piece to his book Portraits de l'Amérique en jeune morte (premiered at art gallery Hus in Paris in 2019).
Over the last few years, Prof. Dubreuil partook in what is now known as "public humanities," penning articles and op-eds for the general press, especially in Les cahiers du cinéma, French newspaper Le monde, or Harper's Magazine.
- Literary theory and Philosophy (esp. poetics, epistemology, politics, metaphysics, the artistic experience)
- Cognitive Science and the Humanities (esp. language, “culture" and mind in human and non-human apes)
- Theory and practice of Comparative Literature, Interdisciplinarity, and “Transcultural” approaches
- Poetry (in general and in particular)
- Literature and/or Philosophy, with a focus on French (all periods, including medieval, and countries), classical Greek (all periods), Latin (all periods), plus strong investment in German (late 18th C-20th C.), English (Renaissance, 19th-20th C.), Italian (Middle Ages, Renaissance, 20th C.), and additional interests in Haitian Creole, Chinese, Spanish.
- Cinema as an art form (esp. European, North American, Russian and Japanese cinema).
- Contemporary artistic creation (visual arts, music, literature, etc.).
- The Refusal of Politics (Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP, 2016)
- The Intellective Space (Minneapolis: The U of Minnesota P, 2015).
- Génération romantique (Paris: Gallimard, 2014).
- Empire of Language (Ithaca: Cornell UP, 2013).
- Pures fictions (Paris: Gallimard, 2013).
- L'État critique de la littérature (Paris: Hermann, 2009).
- A force d'amitié (Paris: Hermann, 2009).
- De l’Attrait à la possession. Maupassant, Artaud, Blanchot (Paris: Hermann, 2003).
- "Friends of War" Oxford Literary Review, 2009.
- "What Is Literature's Now?" New Literary History, 2007.
- "Leaving Politics. Bios, Zoe, Life" Diacritics, 2007.
- "The Presences of Deconstruction" New Literary History, 2006.
Edited Journal Issues
- Labyrinthe 32, 2009: Le petit théâtre intellectuel [Co-ed.]
- Labyrinthe 28, 2007: La Fin des disciplines?
- Labyrinthe 25, 2006: La Bande dessinée, Ce qu'elle dit, ce qu'elle montre [Co-ed.]
- Labyrinthe 24, 2006: Faut-il être postcolonial?
- Labyrinthe 19, 2004: Le bel aujourd'hui. Déclins, décadences, apocalypses.
- Labyrinthe 14, 2003: Constructions de la raison.
In the news
- Conference considers the Art & Science of Thinking Oct. 21-22
- $2M in New Frontier Grants boost high-impact A&S research
- New book explores the meaning of being a human animal
- Forum highlights the connections between humans and apes
- Forum to examine sustainability and nonhuman primates
- New book analyzes poetry across the world
- Atkinson Center names 2018-19 SSHA faculty fellows
- Ape communication explored at Cornell event
- The Human Animal
- Workshop explores ape and human communication
- Workshop takes transdisciplinary approach to great ape communication