Dr Katherine Ibbett
Reader in Early Modern Studies
Research areas: Late sixteenth and seventeenth-century literature, cultural history, political thought. The novel, neoclassical theatre. Histories of affect and sentiment, with a special focus on compassion and fellow feeling. The seventeenth century in its relation to the civil wars of the sixteenth.
In 2012-2013 I will be on research leave as a Fellow of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies at Harvard, where I will be working on a book entitled Compassion in Common: Fellow-Feeling in Early Modern France. The book draws on a range of genres – novels, tragedies, religious treatises – to pursue the political inflections of the language of fellow-feeling that flourished in the century or so after France’s wars of religion. This is not an optimistic book: I suggest that far from demonstrating kindliness toward the other, the language of compassion has historically pointed to a fracture in the social bond.
With Hall Bjornstad of Indiana University, I am also editing a volume on Walter Benjamin's Hypothetical French Trauerspiel, which will appear with Yale French Studies in December 2013. For a generation of mid- to late-twentieth century French theorists, including Foucault and Barthes as well as de Certeau and Marin, the reflection on the predicament of modernity began with an inquiry into modernity’s roots in seventeenth-century France. Little did these thinkers know that the German-Jewish philosopher and critic Walter Benjamin had set out on a similar endeavor 40 years earlier, in an abortive project on what he thought of as the early modern French Trauerspiel, or mourning play. In Walter Benjamin’s Hypothetical French Trauerspiel, a team of leading scholars of early modern Europe takes its cue from Benjamin to build a hypothetical French Trauerspiel. The volume restores early modern France back to its place at the center of post-modern theoretical debates about the vexed origins of the modern world.
I am also editor of the journal Seventeenth-Century French Studies.
Publications include :
• "Reconfiguring Martyrdom in the Colonial
Context: Marie de l'Incarnation." Empires of God: Religious Encounters in the Early Modern Atlantic, eds. Linda Gregerson and Susan Juster (December 2010,
University of Pennsylvania Press), 175-190
• "Italy and France, or How Pierre Corneille Became an Anti-Machiavel" in Italy in the Drama of Europe, eds. Albert Russell Ascoli and William West. Special issue of Renaissance Drama 36/37 (2010): 379-395
• The Style of the State in French Theater, 1630-1660: Neoclassicism and Government (Ashgate, 2009)
• "Pity, Compassion, Commiseration: Theories of Theatrical Relatedness." Seventeenth-Century French Studies 30: 2 (2008): 196-208
• "Who Makes the Statue Speak? Louis XIV and the plainte des statues." Word & Image 24:4 (2008):427-438
• "Heroes and History’s Remainders: The Restes of Pierre Corneille." Modern Language Quarterly 69:3 (September 2008): 353-366
• "Productive Perfection: The Trope of the River in Political Writing." Studies in Early Modern France 12, special issue on "Perfection" (2008): 45-58
• "The Politics of Conservation in Corneille’s Théodore: Dramatic Action and Reason of State." Romance Studies 25:3 (July 2007): 163-173
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