Comparative Literature


Dr Isabelle Moreau

Reader in Early Modern Studies

I am the convenor of the MA in Comparative Literature at UCL and responsible for the module LITCG003 – Comparative Literary Studies.

I was educated in France, where I taught for several years at university level before joining UCL in 2007. I write on Libertinism and Free-Thinking, Early Modern Fiction, and Travel Narratives. I am also very much into Early Modern 'Laziness'.


My work originally centred on relations between literary and philosophical discourses in early modern Europe. My first book, 'Guérir du sot' (2007), mapped libertine discourse in seventeenth-century France; and I edited a volume on the 'Enlightenemnt in motion' (Les Lumières en mouvement, 2009) that concentrated on the transformations of radical ideas in the long eighteenth-century. I am also interested in materialism in thought, literature and medicine (1600-1800).


My next book will be centred on Early Modern Laziness. What was understood by laziness in relation to culture? How was laziness affected by gender, work and politics? And where did you go to ‘be’ lazy? The whole point of invoking laziness was almost always to regulate (social) behaviour, either by means of religious subjugation; or of political disempowerment. My book will look at the works of Montaigne, Melle de Scudéry, Courtin, Pascal and Bayle, among others.


I have just co-edited a volume on Seventeenth-Century Fiction that reaches beyond tne boundaries of a single national literature.

The novel has become a news item. The collective volume Seventeenth-Century Fiction: Text & Transmission (OUP, 2016) responds to the present interest in the novel by offering a fresh, broad approach to the history of early modern fiction. The essays contained in this volume examine how authors fused fictional and non-fictional materials to create new genres and cast light on the Continental influences on the early English novel and on the role played by women’s writings.

Travelers and Travel narratives

Another domain - the reception of travelers' accounts - is especially significant for the period I am studying, and can be looked at in very different ways (Post-colonial Theory; Geographical imagination and its social diffusion; etc.) In my next book project, I plan to investigate the interplay between philosophy and its exotic representations - where we shall discover Confucius as the new Socrates and avatars of Spinoza all over Asia.

For Isabelle's full research profile you can view the French Staff Webpage.