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Kathryn Hume


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Intellectual History
philosophy and literature

Kathryn Hume

Ph.D. Comparative Literature

I joined Stanford’s Comparative Literature program in 2007, having received my B.A. at the University of Chicago, summa cum laude, with a concentration in Comparative Literature and a minor in Mathematics. My research focuses on the intersection between mathematics, philosophy and literature in 17th and 18th century Europe, primarily in France. Analyzing Descartes’s Géométrie alongside the Aristotelian unities and La Rochefoucauld's Maximes, my dissertation reconsiders the relation between Cartesian rationalism and French neoclassicism. It examines 17th century stylistic tendencies towards generalization, compression, and the generation of complexity out of simple, abstract templates. 

I am also interested in epistemology; the history of evidence and the encyclopedia; modernist and twentieth-century poetics; Italian cinema. I’m a pretty serious violin player and long-distance runner.


Entries for "Neoclassical Poetics", "Theophrastan Character", Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics, 4th edn. (Princeton University Press, forthcoming, 2012).

Essay submissions in Rédiger un texte académique en français, ed. Sylvie Garnier and Alan D. Savage (Editions Ophrys, 2011)


COMPLIT 156A, "States of Nature in Literature and Philosophy", Autumn, 2011 (Instructor)

Tutor: Intermediate Latin, Beginning Greek, Advanced French, 2010-2011

DLCL 189, "Honors Thesis Writing Workshop", Autumn 2010 (TA)

FRENLANG 2, "First Year French", Spring, 2010 (Instructor)

FRENLANG 1,2,3, "First Year French, Fall, Winter, Spring, 2008-2009 (Instructor)


Assistant to the Director (with Cécile Alduy), Center for Medieval and Early Modern Studies, 2010-2012

Coordinator (with Roland Greene and Nicholas Jenkins), Stanford Workshop in Poetics, 2008-2011


“Speculative Empiricism: The Conceptual Value of Conjecture in Diderot and Rousseau”, SEASECS Annual Conference, Decatur, GA March 1-3, 2012

“Paralepsis, Procedure and Incomplete Reduction in Descartes’s Géométrie”, Inarticulacy: An Interdisciplinary Early Modern Conference, UC Berkeley, November 12-13, 2011

“The Algebra of la Rochefoucauld’s Maximes”, MEMS Workshop, Stanford University, May 19, 2011

“Analogy versus Analysis: Revisiting the D’Alembert/Diderot Debate over Encyclopedic Order”, ACLA, Vancouver, March 31-April 3, 2011

“A Discussion with the Editors” (on the French Encyclopédie), French Culture Workshop, Stanford University, January 31, 2011

“Of Paradise’s Proportions” (on Milton’sParadise Lost), Renaissances Lecture Series, Stanford University, December 3, 2010

“Fiktion als Zugang zur Wirklichkeit. Über den methodologischen Gebrauch der Fiktion im 17. Jahrhundert”, Lecture Series, Simon Dubnow Institute for Jewish History and Culture, Leipzig, November 12, 2009

“Persuasion or Grace? Patterns of Embedded Narrative in Ariosto and Tasso”, Northern California Renaissance Conference, San José State, May 2, 2009

“Descartes’ Relevance to Theories of Fictionality: Time, Identity and Reference in the Discourse and the Meditations”, ACLA, Harvard, March 26-29, 2009 and Interdisciplinary Possible Worlds Conference, Princeton University, March 6-7, 2009

“Descartes’ Fictionality”, Aesthetics Project, Stanford University, October 7, 2008

“Descartes’s LiteraryPhilosophy – Mallarmé’s Philosophical Poesis: Igitur Resurrects theCogito”, The Substance of Thought: Critical and Pre-critical, Cornell University, April 10-12, 2008


Research Fellow, Simon Dubnow Institute for Jewish History, Autumn, 2009

Fellowship to attend the Greek and Latin Institute at CUNY, Summer 2009

Fellowship to attend the School of Criticism and Theory, Cornell, Summer, 2008

Großes Deutsches Sprachdiplom from the Goethe Institute, May, 2007

Phi Beta Kappa, 2005