Ellen S. Burt

picture of Ellen S. Burt

Professor, French & Italian
School of Humanities

Chair, French & Italian
School of Humanities

0% appointment, Comparative Literature
School of Humanities

PH.D., Yale University

Phone: (949) 824-4940
Email: esburt@uci.edu

University of California, Irvine
312 Humanities Hall
Mail Code: 2925
Irvine, CA 92697
Research Interests
19th Century French Poetry; Enlightenment; Autobiography; Literary Theory
Research Abstract
My long-term interest is in literary texts as they infringe on the domains of philosophy and politics. I have pursued this interest in publications and teaching on questions such as censorship, the political practice of translation as disrupting the stable borders between national languages, the poetic language as legitimating and disruptive force, the city as battleground between official and unofficial memory, the drug experience as a metaphor and as socio-political problem, hospitality, the writing of the other in autobiography.

A first book on lyric poetry and its relation to the political in the 19th century considered works by Chénier, Hugo, Baudelaire, Mallarmé and Hugo (Poetry’s Appeal). The over-arching point was that poetry, while sometimes withdrawn from practical politics, is engaged with re-visioning nature and thus with the new political forms dependent on ideas of nature. An important tool in my readings was the consideration of linguistic indeterminacy, a problem in poetic language that is central to the deconstructive readings of Derrida and de Man.

A long interest in the hybrid texts of autobiography led to a recent book on the representation of alterity in autobiography (Respect for the Other). The book claims that autobiography finds a relation to the other by way of its writing of the decisive moment of death where the identity of the I is in question. Work by Derrida and Levinas on hospitality and the secret provide much of the theoretical inspiration for the book, which has chapters on Rousseau, De Quincey, Baudelaire, and Wilde.

I am beginning work on a project tentatively centered on literary representations of animals in the 19th century city as key to its shifting understanding of the human.
Poetry's Appeal: The Nineteenth-Century French Lyric and the Political Space
Regard for the Other: Autobiography and Autothanatography in Rousseau, De Quincey, Baudelaire and Wilde
Selected Articles:

"Developments in Character: Reading and Inter¬pretation in `The Children's Punishment' and `The Broken Comb,'" Yale French Studies, No. 69, (1985) 192-210.

"The Meeting-Ground of Autobiography and Censor¬ship: Rousseau's Lettres à Malesherbes, Studies in Eighteenth Century Culture (East Lansing, Mich: Colleagues Press for Amer. Soc. of Eighteenth Century Studies, 1987), 289-308.

"Mapping City Walks: The Topography of Memory in Rousseau's Second and Seventh Promenades," Yale French Studies, No. 74, (1988) 231-248.

"Cracking the Code: The Poetical and Political Legacy of André Chénier," Yale French Studies, No. 77, (1989) 210-242.

"Hallucinatory History: Hugo's Révolution," Modern Language Notes, Comparative Literature issue, MLN, 105 (1990), 965-991.

“‘An Immoderate Taste for Truth’: Censoring History in Baudelaire’s ‘Les Bijoux,’” Diacritics, summer 1997, 19-43.

“Regard for the Other: Embarrassment in the Quatrième promenade.” L’Esprit créateur, vol. XXXIX, no. 4 (winter) 1999, 54-67.

“Materiality and Autobiography in Baudelaire’s ‘La Pipe’.” Modern Language Notes, vol. 116, no. 5 (December 2001), 941-963.

“Hospitality in Autobiography: Levinas chez De Quincey,” English Literary History, 71, (winter 2005), 867-897.

“A Cadaver in Clothes: Autobiography and the Dandy,” Romanic Review, 96 , no. 1, (winter 2005). 19-39.

“Baudelaire and Intoxicants,” in A Cambridge Companion to Baudelaire, ed. by Rosemary Lloyd. Cambridge : Cambridge University Press, 2006, 117-129.
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