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Michele Longino, Professor Emerita

Michele Longino

Professor of French & Italian Studies, received her Ph.D. from the University of Michigan, and taught at Rice University before coming to Duke in 1989.  She is an early modern specialist on the French Classical age, 1650-1700. Her interests in the epistolary genre and in women's writing led to the publication of Performing Motherhood: The Sévigné Correspondence (UP of New England, 1991).  Her second book, Orientalism in French Classical Drama (Cambridge UP, 2002) focused on the questions of the 17th-century French theater-going public, nation-building, and the world of the early modern Mediterranean.  Her subsequent research examined Mediterranean travel accounts from the classical period, and resulted in her book, “French Travel Writing and the Ottoman Empire: Marseilles to Constantinople, 1650-1700,” (Routledge Press, 2015).She has also published articles on the writings of other seventeenth-century authors, including Mme d'Aulnoy, Marie de Gournay, Poullain de la Barre, Mme de Lafayette, Corneille, Boileau, Molière, and Racine, Jean-Baptiste Tavernier, Jean Thévenot, Guillaume-Joseph Grelot, Jean Chardin, and Antoine Galland.  Her research interests include travel writing, classical theater, questions of genre, and seventeenth-century French literature in a cultural studies context. Her courses have covered a broader range, including but not limited to The French Love Story, The Reader, Yesterday’s Classics / Today’s Films, and seminars on the comedies of Molière and the tragedies of Racine, the Staging of Exoticism in Seventeenth-century France, the Classical Age and the Law of Genre, Seventeenth-century French Mediterranean Travel Writing.

Most recent book:

French Travel Writing in the Ottoman Empire

Marseilles to Constantinople, 1650-1700

By Michele Longino

Routledge – 2015 – 180 pages

Series: Routledge Research in Travel Writing

        Examining the history of the French experience of the Ottoman world and Turkey, this comparative study visits the accounts of early modern travelers for the insights they bring to the field of travel writing. The journals of contemporaries Jean-Baptiste Tavernier, Jean Thévenot, Laurent D’Arvieux, Guillaume-Joseph Grelot, Jean Chardin, and Antoine Galland reveal a rich corpus of political, social, and cultural elements relating to the Ottoman Empire at the time, enabling an appreciation of the diverse shapes that travel narratives can take at a distinct historical juncture. Longino examines how these writers construct themselves as authors, characters, and individuals in keeping with the central human project of individuation in the early modern era, also marking the differences that define each of these travelers – the shopper, the envoy, the voyeur, the arriviste, the ethnographer, the merchant. She shows how these narratives complicate and alter political and cultural paradigms in the fields of Mediterranean studies, 17th-century French studies, and cultural studies, arguing for their importance in the canon of early modern narrative forms, and specifically travel writing. The first study to examine these travel journals and writers together, this book will be of interest to a range of scholars covering travel writing, French literature, and history.

Contact Info:
Office Location:  205 Languages, Box90257 Duke University, Durham, NC 27708
Office Phone:  (919) 564-5924
Email Address: send me a message
Web Page:

Office Hours:

By appointment. Generally available 2:40-4:40 p.m. T, Th

Ph.D.University of Michigan, Ann Arbor1984
M.A.Claremont Graduate School1972

European Studies
Gender Studies, Feminism, Women Studies, Queer Studies
Comparative Studies: Translation, Travel Narratives, Trans-Culturality
Early Modern
French Studies
Decolonial and Post-colonial Studies
Research Interests: Early modern theater, travel writing, epistolary and questions of genre

Current projects: French Travel Writing in the Ottoman Empire: Marseilles to Constantinople, 1650-1700

Professor Longino's current book examines the activity of travel and studies the genre of travel writing. It features travel journals, all penned between 1650 and 1700, by six French voyagers who followed roughly the same itinerary from Marseilles to Constantinople, and is finally relevant to the question of France's attitudinal resistance today to Turkey's inclusion in the European Union. Her new book is organized around the travel journals of Guillaume-Joseph Grelot, the artist; Jean Chardin, the Protestant jewel merchant; Antoine Galland, the antiquarian; Laurent D'Arvieux, the linguist and diplomat; Jean Thévenot, the orientalist; and Jean-Baptiste Tavernier, the French king's diamond merchant. Each of these travelers treats the same basic trajectory--the sea voyage between Marseilles, then as now France's "Gateway to the Orient," and the port of destination, Constantinople, also then as now, a symbolic center of Levantine power, and the major hub of East-West contact. Together, these writings enable us to appreciate the diverse shapes that travel narrative can take at a single historical juncture and have much to teach us about the nature of travel writing.

Areas of Interest:

17th Century French Literature
Travel Writing
Early Modern Mediterranean Studies
History of Theater
The Epistolary Genre
Feminist Criticism
Theories of Genre


Classical Theater • Epistolary • Mediterranean • Travel • Travel writing--History

Curriculum Vitae
Postdocs Mentored

  • Kartina "Kadji" J Amin (November, 2009)  
  • Micah True (January 15, 2009)  
  • Tabitha Spagnolo (April 21, 2006)  
  • Stephanie O'Hara (May, 2002)  
  • Jennifer Perlmutter (April, 2001)  
  • Doris Garraway (April, 2000)  
  • Robin Simpson (1997)  
  • Elise MacMahon (December, 1995)  
Representative Publications   (More Publications)   (search)

  1. Longino, M, L’Apprentissage épistolaire de Madame de Sévigné, Œuvres Et Critiques, vol. XXXV no. I (2010), pp. 29-49
  2. Longino, M, Jean Thévenot: ethnographe des îles du Levant, Actes Du Cir 17 : “L’Ile Au Xviie Siècle: Réalités Et Imaginaire.” (April, 2009), pp. 59-68, Centre International de Recherches sur le 17e siècle
  3. Longino, M, Le "Mamamouchi" ou la colonisation de l’imaginaire français par le monde ottoman, in Théâtre et voyage (2011), pp. 71-83, Presses universitaires de Paris - Sorbonne
  4. Longino, M, Antoine Galland: Voyageur et passeur, in Récits d’orient dans les littératures d’Europe, edited by Picherot, ADEE (2008), pp. 341-347, Presses universitaires de Paris - Sorbonne IV
  5. Longino, M, Jean Chardin, Traveler: Freedom in the Margins, in Marginalités classiques; Mélanges en l’honneur de Madeleine Alcover, edited by Harry, P; Mothu, A; Sellier, P (2006), Paris: Honoré Champion

Areas of Interest: 17th Century French Literature; Travel Writing; Early Modern Mediterranean Studies; History of Theater; The Epistolary Genre; Feminist Criticism; Theories of Genre

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