Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS)


Flaubert's (Real) Utopias

11 October 2023, 3:00 pm–5:00 pm

Marine, Arcachon, temps d’orage by Manet via Wikimedia

The UCL Centre for French and Francophone Research is pleased to welcome Dr Robert St Clair, Dartmouth College.

This event is free.

Event Information

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All | UCL staff | UCL students




Institute of Advanced Studies


IAS Common Ground
G11, ground floor, South Wing
UCL, Gower Street, London
United Kingdom

While it might not strike us the most self-evident of propositions—for such is the author’s endurant reputation in critical circles as an impassively above-the-fray aesthete—this talk proposes to locate in one of Gustave Flaubert’s final publications the contours of an aesthetic politics at provocative odds with the author’s reactionary reputation. Following a figural constellation that links the opening moments of Un coeur simple to the equally infamous, narratively open-ended scene upon which this same tale closes, what emerges are the outlines of a profoundly egalitarian, indeed utopian, literary politics, if not a kind of ethical imagination constitutive of the literary for Flaubert—one which forms the readerly heart of Un cœur simple

An event organised by the Centre for French and Francophone Research

Image credit: Marine, Arcachon, temps d’orage by Édouard Manet, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

About the Speaker

Robert St.Clair

Associate Professor of French at French and Italian at Dartmouth College

He is the author of works on the politics and theories of 19th-century French literature which have appeared in venues such as Romanic ReviewFrench ForumEsprit créateur, Nineteenth-Century French studies, the Wiley-Blackwell Companion to World Literature and a forthcoming volume titled Baudelaire and Philosophy. In addition to having co-edited a special of Nineteenth-Century French Studies marking the 150thanniversary of the Paris Commune, he is the co-editor of Parade sauvage (the international journal of Rimbaud Studies) as well as the author Lyrical Material: Poetry, Politics, and the Body in Rimbaud. His next book, Constellations of Loss: Counter-modernities in C19 French Literature, is forthcoming with Oxford University Press next year, and constitutes an interrogation of the knots binding the complexities and opacities of textual form to a counter-historical view on the nineteenth century as seen from the “loser’s point of view” (or, le point de vue des vaincus). His talk today—on Flaubert, reading, and the utopias of realism—forms the coda to this forthcoming work and is titled: Real(ist) Utopias: Three Hypotheses about Dreaming, Dying, and Insignificance in Un coeur simple”