Laurence Marie

Laurence Marie

Research Interests

Theater and the arts; History of emotions ; Enlightenment Literature and Philosophy; Reception of Shakespeare in Eighteenth-Century Europe (theory, adaptations and translations); French language pedagogy

I hold an ‘agrégation de Lettres modernes’ and a Ph.D. in Comparative literature from La Sorbonne University in Paris. I teach French language pedagogy and literature at Columbia, and a class on Francophone contemporary fiction (‘Machines à écrire’) at New York University.

In my book, Inventer l’acteur. Emotions et spectacle dans l’Europe des Lumières (Sorbonne Université Presses, March 2019), I recount the steps that led to the emergence of stage performance’s first theories in the Eighteenth Century. I analyze the shift from declamation to a more visual, body-centered type of performance, at a time when theater was the main form of entertainment. I show how acting was a laboratory for Enlightenment ideas about the relationships between nature, works of art and the audience. By focusing on the body and emotions, acting theory challenged the classical imitation of passions in favor of a more direct expression of emotions. These bold experiments opened the pathways that would be developed by modern theories of performance and the arts. They also constituted a revolutionary exploration of individual identity through a new focus on the living body, and the elevation of acting to an art form and actors and actresses to full citizens.

I am currently putting together, with Sabine Chaouche, an issue of European Drama and Performance Studies entitled Emotions Hit the Stage (16th-21st Century), to be published in 2021. I am also working on a new research project devoted to the aesthetic and political usages of the figures of the savage and the barbarian in the Eighteenth Century: I am exploring the ways the fascination with primitivism, joined with a redefinition of nature and emotions, inspired new trends in artistic creation.

I have written about 30 articles on performance and the visual arts, the reception of Shakespeare in Eighteenth-Century Europe, and, more generally, the history of aesthetic ideas between classicism and romanticism, published among other places in Diderot StudiesStudies on Voltaire and the Eighteenth CenturyRestoration and Eighteenth-Century Theatre ResearchLittératures classiques, and Revue des sciences humaines.

I co-edited conference proceedings about Crime on Stage (Réécritures du crime. L’acte sanglant sur la scène, Littératures classiques, 2008/3), and co-directed a chapter on drama translations in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries (Histoire des traductions en langue française, Verdier, 2014).

Between 2012 and 2016, I was the head of the book and ideas department at the French Embassy in the United States, promoting French and Francophone writers countrywide : during my diplomatic appointment, I curated a year-long Proust festival, helped create Albertine French bookstore, and organized the first Night of Philosophy in the U.S. 

Prior to coming to New York, I taught literature for 10 years in French universities, mostly at La Sorbonne. Between 1999 and 2014, I was a member of the journal Labyrinthe. Atelier interdisciplinaire (and its co-director from 2004 to 2007). I have also worked as a speech writer for the French Minister of European Affairs, and of Higher Education and Research. And I was a freelance writer for the weeklies Le Nouvel ObservateurElle Magazine and Le Monde des livres.

Recent Publications

Inventer l’acteur. Emotions et spectacle dans l’Europe des Lumières, 480 pages, 25 color illustrations (Sorbonne Université Presses, 2019, 26 euros). Reviewed in Le Monde des livres (03/28/2019) and L’Obs (05/09/2019)

“Talks about theater in Saint-Domingue’s Affiches américaines (1766-1791): a public voice on a public space?” in J. Leichman and K. Bénac-Giroux eds. Theatre and Performance in – and of – the French Antilles under the Ancien Régime (Oxford University Studies in the Enlightenment, forthcoming in 2020)

“The making of French neo-classical tragedy and the invention of modern performance” in H. Bilis and E. McClure eds. Options for Teaching French Neo-Classical Tragedy (PMLA, forthcoming in 2020)

 “Othello à Paris, ou les scandales en série ?”, in B. Filippi, F. Lecercle, L. Norman and C. Thouret eds. Théâtre et scandale (forthcoming in 2020)


“La critique morale, aliment de la théorie esthétique: la Lettre à d’Alembert sur les spectacles et le Paradoxe sur le comédien”, in F. Lecercle and C. Thouret eds. Littératures classiques 98: “La Haine du théâtre, Controverses et polémiques” (2019)

“L’entrée de Shakespeare au répertoire de la Comédie-Française” in C. Biet ed. Littératures classiques 95: “La question du répertoire au théâtre” (2018)

“Sculpture antique et théorie du jeu tragique,” in M. Fazio, P. Frantz, V. De Santis eds. Les Arts du spectacle et la référence antique dans le théâtre européen (1760-1830) (Garnier, 2018)

“’Juger le procès entre la tragédie de Londres et la tragédie de Paris’: Shakespeare contre le modèle tragique français ?”, in F. Lecercle and C. Thouret eds. La Haine de Shakespeare (Presses de l’Université Paris-Sorbonne, online, 2017)

“Shakespeare et l’esthétique du tableau au xviiie siècle,” in B. Louvat-Molozay and F. March eds. Les théâtres anglais et français (xvie-xviiie siècle). Contacts, circulation, influences, (Presses Universitaires de Rennes, 2016)