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Melanie Conroy


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early and realist cinema
the mondain novel
literature and finance
women’s history and literature
popular theater
20th century
19th century

Melanie Conroy

University of Memphis, Foreign Languages and Literatures, Faculty

In her research and her teaching, Melanie Conroy is interested in the intersection of literature, the visual, and social networks in nineteenth- and twentieth-century France.

She received her doctorate from Stanford University in 2012, after earning MAs from the University of Buffalo and the Université de Paris VIII. While at Stanford, she was the managing editor of Republics of Letters (2010-2011) and lab manager for the Humanities + Design lab (CESTA). During the 2012-2013 year, she taught in two new interdisciplinary programs Education as Self-Fashioning and Thinking Matters.  Her work was supported by a Whiting Fellowship (2011-2012). 

In her current book project, she argues that the surprisingly long afterlife that aristocrats enjoyed in post-Revolutionary French literature was due to their ability to serve as projections of ideal selves—and the ability of literary aristocracies to reflect ideal societies, whose qualities varied according to the ideological orientation of the writer. Drawing upon authors as diverse as Delphine de Girardin, Barbey d’Aurevilly, Scribe, Proust, Robbe-Grillet, and Renoir, she demonstrates that high literary versions of the aristocracy had much in common with popular visions of the nobility found in magazines, caricatures, street theater, and popular writing, all of which contributed to the very public debate over who should lead France. 

She has published articles in Poetics TodayNineteenth-Century French StudiesMédias 19, and RELIEF - on represented thought in the nineteenth- and twentieth-century French novel, Benjamin Constant’s Adolphe, Nadar’s Mossieu Réac, and madame de Genlis's society dialogues. She is the project lead on three digital humanities projects: The Salons Project (Mapping Republics of Letters), Mapping Balzac, and 19th-Century Networks. 

She writes reviews for the LSE Review of Books and blog posts about the digital humanities on HASTAC.

Assistant Professor, French Studies, University of Memphis, 2013-present.
Thinking Matters program, Stanford University, 2012-2013.
Lab manager, Humanities + Design, CESTA, Stanford University, 2012-2013.
Stanford University, Ph.D. in French (September 2012).
Université de Paris VIII, Masters (D.E.A) in French Literature (July 2006).

SUNY Buffalo, Masters in Comparative Literature (June 2005).

University of AlbertaB.A. with honors in English Literature (June 2000). 
“Figuring Consciousness: French Realism and the Inward Turn.” [forthcoming in Poetics Today]
"Reviving the Art of Sociability: Madame de Genlis's Post-Revolutionary Salon at the Arsenal," Special Issue of RELIEFMadame de Genlis et la pensée des Lumières, edited by Alicia C. Montoya, 7:1, pp. 106-122.
Comment se vendre: L’escroquerie et le marketing dans La vie publique et privée de Mossieu Réac de Nadar,”  Special Issue ofMédias 19Presse, prostitution, bas-fonds (1830-1930), edited by Guillaume Pinson, Summer, 2013. 
Spontaneity and Moral Certainty in Benjamin Constant’s Adolphe,” in Nineteenth-Century French Studies40: 3-4, pp. 222-238.


2013 “Literary Salons, Bourgeois Cercles: Social Networks and the Aesthetics of the Post-Revolutionary Salon,” American Comparative Literature Association, University of Toronto, April, part of panel “Occupy the Territory: Mapping and Unmapping Social Space in Nineteenth-Century Europe,” organized with Meghan Freeman, Oregon State University.

2012 “Mapping French Salons: 1700-1914,” LENS Mapping People Symposium, University of Redlands, Redlands, CA, October.

2012 “The bal bourgeois: Taste, Excess, and Social Distinction,” Nineteenth-Century French Studies Conference, Raleigh, NC, October.

2012 “Comment se vendre : L’escroquerie et le marketing dans ‘La vie publique et privée de mossieu Réac’ de Nadar,” Presse, prostitution, bas-fonds dans l'espace médiatique francophone, Colloque international, Québec, Canada, June.

2012 “Enrichissez-vous: Speculation in the comédies-vaudevilles and Balzac,” American Comparative Literature Association, Providence, RI, March.

2012 “The Melodrama of History: Carlyle, Dickens, and Sand on the Morality of the Revolution,” Modern Language Association, Seattle, WA, January.    


Stanford University, 2007-2013.


Revolutions in Prose: The 19th-Century Novel. Taught with Professor Dan Edelstein to reconceive his second-year course on revolutions and the nineteenth-century French novel. Authors include Stendhal, Balzac, Flaubert, Zola, and Anatole France. Team-taught. Sessions in French. Winter 2013. (Part of a Humanities Teagle teaching grant.)


Thinking Matters: The Poet Remaking the World. Lecturer in newThinking Matters course on poetry and social transformation. With Professors Eavan Boland (English) and Steven Carter (Asian Languages and Literatures). Authors include Owen, Kerouac, Basho, and Eliot. Responsibilities include teaching two sections, co-authoring assignments, and grading undergraduate papers. Winter 2012.


Education as Self-Fashioning: Learning for a Public Life. Instructor for freshman writing course in pilot “Education as Self-Fashioning” program with Professor Dan Edelstein (French). Responsibilities include teaching a section, co-authoring assignments, and grading undergraduate papers. Fall 2012.


Images of Women in French Cinema. TA for Professor Jean-Marie Apostolidès. Responsibilities included teaching two sections, co-authoring exams, and grading undergraduate papers. Spring 2012.                 


Outsiders, Conspirators, and the Masses: Nineteenth-Century French Fiction. Designed and taught. Looks at the emergence of new social types in nineteenth-century fiction: social climbers, dandies, amateur philosophers, impoverished students, master criminals, aspiring actresses, and political radicals. How do groups differentiate themselves in and by way of literature? Who belongs and who doesn’t? Which groups are heroized and which are villainized? Authors include Balzac, Stendhal, Sue, Nerval, Vigny, Flaubert, Zola. Taught in French. Spring 2010.


Philosophy and Literature. Teaching assistant for Professors Lanier Anderson and Joshua Landy. Responsibilities included teaching a section, co-creating assignments, and reviewing undergraduate papers. Winter 2010.