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Biliana Kassabova


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Biliana Kassabova

Lecturer in French


My research and teaching are focused on 18th and 19th century French literature, intellectual history, and political thought. More specifically, I am interested in revolutionary discourses, literature and economic thought, writings of the self, and utopian and dystopian literature.

My current book manuscript, entitled The Tribune and the People: Revolutionary leadership in 19th century France, traces revolutionary political representation through the French revolutionary period 1789-1871. Using novels, political debates, journals, and memoirs of the period, I argue that the figure of the tribune of the people – a non-elected defender of the people’s will who might take on the discourse and role of an educator, publisher, or dictator – was key to both the development and the demise of the revolutionary tradition in France.

I have several projects in the works. The first concerns the doux commerce thesis and its decline after the French revolution. I am interested in how commerce, in the 18th century often positively correlated with human sociability, came to be viewed as the epitome of anti-social behaviour by the early 19th century. A second project explores how the provinces were portrayed in French literature of the last decades of the 19th century to ask what the role of the (hexagonal) periphery was in the construction of a new concept of French nationhood after 1871. 

I teach widely across the undergraduate and graduate curricula. My courses include French language classes at all levels, seminars in Early Modern and Modern French literature, as well as in Modern French History, and Freshman writing seminars. My recent courses include Les Misérables, Nationhood and Nationalism in Modern France, and Coffee and Cigarettes: The Making of French Intellectual Culture.



Stanford University (2008-2015)
Ph.D. in French Literature. Dissertation title: "The Tribune and the People: Revolutionary Leadership in France, 1789-1871" 
The University of Chicago (2003-2007)
B.A. in Romance Languages and Literatures (French), with honors; B.A. in Economics