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Helen Solterer, Professor

Helen Solterer

My research focuses on early, modern literature and culture in French. I consider fiction in historical action, its first forms in relation to many others, including the contemporary.  

 Timely Fictions, the book I’m writing now, pursues this approach in a series of pictorial essays focused on poetry, drama, narrative.  Each essay cuts “across the grain of time” considering, for example, Villon, with Hugo and Glissant, Christine de Pizan with Edith Thomas, the mystery play with Sartre.  This work has been supported by the Francophone Digital Humanities project, Making Medieval Poetry, funded by a grant from French Cultural Services.  My last book, Medieval Roles for Modern Times, explores a similar approach by investigating early theater and its twentieth-century creation. Un Moyen Âge républicain : paradoxes du théâtre en temps de guerre, its adaptation, was featured at the History Book Festival in Blois, France.

 InTransit: Arts of Migration around Europe is a research group I co-convene bringing together faculty from Romance Studies, Art, Art History and Visual Studies, as well as the Nasher Museum.  Through a series of four installations across campus this fall, 2018, the group offers a historical perspective on migration today in areas of the world where Romance languages are spoken -- Europe, Africa, the Americas.   Work with my students on the case of francophone Northern Europe is part of the exhibit at the Museum

Seminars offered to students at all levels include: Cultural Memory; French Short Fiction; Early, Modern Times – A User’s Manual; Biography, History of Free Speech : Francophonie-USA. Collaboration defines all my teaching: multi-lingual critics, writers, and artists of all stripes contribute to these classes.

Off campus, I’m also at work on a book of another style: a literary biography and family narrative set in Dublin-Paris.


Contact Info:
Office Location:  217B Language Center, Durham, NC 27708
Email Address: send me a message
Web Pages:

Teaching (Fall 2019):

    Perkins 070, TuTh 10:05 AM-11:20 AM
    Languages 305, TuTh 01:25 PM-02:40 PM
    (also cross-listed as FRENCH 411.01, HISTORY 611.01, HISTORY 420.01, LIT 609.01, LIT 420.01)
Office Hours:

Wednesdays, 5-6 pm.
& by appt.

Ph.D.University of Toronto (Canada)1986
Boursière, Ambassade de France,Université de Paris VII1983
Masters of ArtUniversity of Toronto1981
Bachelor of ArtsGeorgetown University1978
Year of StudyUniversity College of Dublin1978

Early Modern
European Studies
Performance Studies
Gender Studies, Feminism, Women Studies, Queer Studies
Research Interests:

Pre-modern French Literature and Culture; Twentieth-Century European Cultural History; Performance Studies; Gender Studies. Research Interests include questions of cultural memory, biography, political writing -- Christine de Pizan, Alain Chartier, François Villon; and contemporary theater.

Curriculum Vitae
Current Ph.D. Students  

  • Julie Singer  
  • Brooke Heidenreich Findley  
  • Daniel De Cillis  
Representative Publications   (More Publications)

  1. Solterer, H, Un Moyen Âge républicain : paradoxes du théâtre en temps de guerre (2014), Presses universitaires Paris-Sorbonne, (translated by Chénetier Alev, M.) [un-moyen-age-republicain]
  2. Solterer, H, Medieval Roles in Modern Times: Theater and the Battle for the French Republic (February, 2010), pp. 271 pages, 40 figures pages, The Pennsylvania State University Press
  3. Solterer, H, "Aimer un pays tout autre: Christine de Pizan, Alain Chartier, & Compagnie”, in Sens, Rhétorique, et Musique : Études réunies en hommage à Jacqueline Cerquiglini-Toulet, edited by Lefèvre, S; Lucken, C; Doudet, E (2015), pp. 769-782, Champion
  4. Solterer, H, Parcours d’un militant de théâtre: Moussa Abadi, in Le texte critique : expérimenter le théâtre et le cinéma aux XXe et XXIe siècles, edited by Alev, VVEMC (2013), pp. 207-220., Presses Universitaires François Rabelais
  5. Solterer, H; Dominguez, V, Réactivations scéniques, in Le Théâtre du XIIe au XIIe siècles, edited by Halévy, O; Parussa, G; Smith, D (2014), L’Avant-Scène
  6. Solterer, H, “Strange or Elegant or Foul Matter,”, Exemplaria, 25 (2013) (2013), pp. 79-92 (A Book-review essay.) [1041257312Z.00000000026]
  7. Solterer, H, Timely Fictions (2017)
  8. H. Solterer, "Love to Hate: A Premodern Legacy?" (2013)
  9. Solterer, H, Teaching Free Speech in Times of War, edited by I com, (September, 2007)
  10. Solterer, H, The Master and Minerva: Disputing Women in French Medieval Culture (September, 1995), University of California Press (co-awarded The Modern Language Association Scaglione Prize, 1995.)
Conferences Organized

  • "Théâtre et Résistance: Moussa Abadi”, June 2009  

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