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Lisa Ann Villarreal


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marxist theory

Lisa Ann Villarreal

Ph.D.,  Comparative Literature (2012)

Lisa Ann Villarreal completed her Ph.D. this Fall in Comparative Literature at Stanford. She received her B.A., magna cum laude, from the Loyola University Chicago Honors College in 2005, with majors in French, English, International Studies, and Philosophy, along with minors in Comparative Literature and Women's Studies.  She has also studied German at the Humboldt Universität zu Berlin in 2006 and attended the School of Criticism and Theory at Cornell University in 2009. Her research focuses on fiction of the francophone, anglophone, and germanophone traditions from the late-nineteenth through the twenty-first centuries, especially Surrealism, minimalism, gothic literature, the fantastic and the uncanny. She is also interested in film and film studies, particularly Weimar and classical Hollywood cinema. Her approach to literary texts is a political aesthetics that draws on phenomenology, Marxism, and post-structuralism.


The Subject and Matter: The Body and the Space of Narration in Early-Twentieth-Century Literature interrogates the literary work’s capacity to engage the body of the reader, exploring the intersection of narrative representations of the visual and tactile experience of being-in-space and the work’s engagement with its own material dimensions as text, page, and book. Exploring the question of how the material presence of the book inflects the experience of reading, the project examines the use of elements of textual organization such as enjambment, punctuation, paragraph breaks, juxtaposition, and graphic elements in the works of the French Surrealists, Céline, Beckett, and Hemingway.

Committee Members: 

H.U. Gumbrecht (principal advisor), David Palumbo-Liu, Laura Wittman


  • "'Là bas où sa race était née': Colonial Anxieties and the Fantasy of the Native Body in Maupassant's Le Horla." [forthcoming in Nineteenth-Century French Studies]

  • “Dead Man Walking: Bram Stoker’s Dracula and the Monstrous Form of Nineteenth-Century Mobility.” [under revision for Victorian Literature and Culture

  • "Hegel as Philosophy of Observation: Reflections on the Discourse of Science and Self-Reflexivity in the Phenomenology of Spirit." [forthcoming in Spanish in La Historia de la Observacion Segundo Grado. Ed. Perla Chinchilla and H.U. Gumbrecht. Mexico City: Universidad Iberoamericana, 2012; forthcoming in German in Beobachtung Zweiter Ordnung — Historisiert. München, Fink Verlag, 2012.]

  • Translation of Geist und Materie--Was ist Leben? Zur Aktualitaet von Erwin Schroedinger, Ed. H.U. Gumbrecht. Stanford UP, 2011.

  • "'A simulation from beginning to end':(Mis)representing Otherness in J.M. Coetzee's Elizabeth Costello" in Declensions of the Self: A Bestiary of Modernity, Ed. Jean-Jacques Defert, Trevor Tchir, and Dan Webb. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2008.

Conference Presentations:

  • “Telegraphic Style and Post-War Topography: Louis-Ferdinand Céline’s Textual Landscapes.” The Edges of Exposure, Graduate Student Conference, Dept. of French, UC Berkeley. April 27-28, 2012.
  • "Dead Man Walking: Bram Stoker's Dracula and the Monstrous Form of Nineteenth-century Mobility." Travelling Concepts, Metaphors, and Narratives: Literary and Cultural Studies in an Age of Interdisciplinary Research, Hermes Consortium for Literary and Cultural Studies, Justus-Liebig-Universitaet Giessen. June 13-19, 2010.
  • "'Ce corps inconnaissable': The Fantasy of the Native Body in Discourses of Degeneration." Fossilization and Evolution, Nineteenth-Century French Studies Colloquium. October 22-24, 2009.
  • "Tracing the Limits of Representation: Freud and Todorov on the Fantasy of Historical Memory."Inside/Outside,Graduate Student Conference, Humanities Center, Johns Hopkins University. April 2-3, 2009.
  • "'Là bas où sa race était née': Reading Race and Repression in Maupassant's Le Horla." Circulation: Networks, Knowledge and the Literary, Eighteenth Annual Conference, French Graduate Student Association, Columbia University. March 6, 2009.
  • “Imagining the Modern: Towards a Critical Historiography (On Eschatological Themes in the Writings of Marx).”Arrivals and Departures, 2008 Annual Meeting of the American Comparative Literature Association. April 24-27, 2008.
  • “Sex, Lies, and the Nation-State: Spies and Sexual Deviants in Proust’s Recherche.” Comparative Literature Colloquium, Stanford University, May 18, 2007.
  • “A Lesson in Narration: Representations of Otherness and the Rational Project in Coetzee’s Elizabeth Costello.”Declensions of the Self: A Bestiary of Modernity, Fifth Graduate Student Conference, Depts. of Modern Languages and Cultural Studies, Comparative Literature, and Political Science, University of Alberta, Edmonton. September 28-29, 2006.
  • “'On est pour son pays comme on est pour soi-même': Proustian Space and the Semiotics of Nationhood.”L’Exception Française: Negotiating Identity in the French National Imaginary, Graduate Student Conference, Dept. of French and Francophone Studies, University of California, Los Angeles. November 2-3, 2006.

 Work in Progress:

  • "Much Ado About Nothing: On Flannery O'Connor 's Engagement with Heidegger" [article]
  • “The Visual Poetics of Minimalism” [article]

Professional Activities:

  • Strategic Communications Internship (researching initiatives to promote the humanities) with the Office of Public Affairs at Stanford University (Summer 2012)

  • Planning Committee, Restructuring Humanities Departments: Language, Literature, Culture, Conference organized by the Research Unit of the Division of Literatures, Cultures, and Languages, Stanford University, May 8-9, 2011.

  • Planning Committee, Avatars: Personae, Heteronyms, Pseudonyms, Third Graduate Student Conference, Dept. of Comparative Literature, Stanford University, April 10-11, 2009.

  • Planning Committee, Corruption in Modern Literature and Theory, Second Graduate Student Conference, Dept. of Comparative Literature, Stanford University. April 4-5, 2008.

  • Co-organizer, Horizons, First Graduate Student Conference, Dept. of Comparative Literature. November 17-18, 2006.

  • Research Assistant to Professor Adrian Daub

  • Aesthetics Project, Research Group of the Philosophy and Literature Initiative, Stanford University. 

  • Philosophical Reading Group, Research Workshop of the Stanford Humanities Center.
  • French Culture Workshop, Division of Literatures, Cultures, and Languages, Stanford University

  • Working Group on the Novel, Center for the Study of the Novel, Stanford University