Catherine Nesci

Catherine Nesci
& Chair
Comparative Literature

Office Location

Phelps 5218


Professor of French, affiliated with Comparative Literature & Feminist Studies


  • 1987: PhD in French and Comparative Literature, University of Paris-7, Highest Honors
  • 1981: Agrégation de lettres modernes
  • 1980: MA, University of Paris-7, Highest Honors
  • 1978-1982: Fellow, Ecole Normale Supérieure
  • 1976: Baccalaureate in Maths, Physics and Chemistry, Highest Honors


Academic Positions

  • 2012-present: Chair, Comparative Literature Program, University of California at Santa Barbara
  • 2004-present: Professor of French, Dept of French and Italian, UC Santa Barbara
  • 2004-2008; 1996-1999: Chair, Dept of French and Italian, UC Santa Barbara
  • Summer 2001  Visiting Professor, Institut d’Etudes Françaises in Avignon, Bryn Mawr College
  • Fall 1999: Visiting Professor of History, Dept of History, University of Paris-7
  • 1986: appointed as Assistant Professor of French, Dept of French and Italian, UC Santa Barbara
  • 1982-86: Lecturer of French, Dept of French, Bryn Mawr College (except 1984-85)

Academic Distinctions and Awards

  • 2008 & 2014: Conference Grants, Albert and Elaine Borchard Foundation, Inc.
  • 2000: Palmes Académiques, French Ministry of Education
  • 1999-2000: Quarter Scholar-in-Residency Grant, Albert and Elaine Borchard Foundation, Inc
  • 1989-1990: Andrew W. Mellon post-Doctoral Fellowship, Department of French New York University
  • 1989-1990: American Council of Learned Societies, Fellow (1989-1990)


Teaching & Research Foci

  • Nineteenth-Century and Twentieth-Century French & Francophone Studies
  • Urban and Spatial Studies
  • Comparative and World Literature
  • Literary Theory, Feminist & Gender Studies
  • Literature and the Press (18th-20th cent.)
  • History of French feminism (1789-present)
  • Film and Media Studies
  • German Studies (Franz Kafka, Walter Benjamin, Siegfried Kracauer)
  • Holocaust, Trauma, & Memory Studies

Main Professional Activities

Conference organizer

  • Organizer, “Urban Mysteries: Crime Fiction from Eugène Sue’s Mysteries of Paris to the American Noir.” Co-host: D. Jullien. Comparative Literature, Graduate Center for Literary Research, Department of French and Italian, & the Interdisciplinary Humaniti4es Center, UC Santa Barbara, February 27-28 & March 1, 2014. 
  • The 18th International George Sand Studies Conference: “Writing, Performance, and Theatricality in George Sand's Works” Department of French and Italian, UC Santa Barbara. Fall 2008.
  • Co-organizer of the International Colloquium for the Jean-Paul Sartre Centennial Celebration (1905-2005). With Ernest Sturm. Department of French and Italian, and the Interdisciplinary Humanities Center, UC Santa Barbara, November 29-December 4, 2005.
  • 20th Annual Colloquium in Nineteenth Century French Studies, “The Contours of Identity: Thresholds, Boundaries and Borders,” UC Santa Barbara, October 20-23, 1994. Co-host, Didier Maleuvre.


Working on sequel to 2007 book: Le Retour de la flâneuse, with chapters on women, literature and the visual and print media, including Colette, Violette Leduc, Agnès Varda, Annie Ernaux, Assia Djebar, Hélène Cixous, and Régine Robin.



  • American Mysterymania: du récit des bas-fonds au film noir et au Steampunk/ American Mysterymania: from underworld fiction to film noir and Steampunk. Edited, in collanoration with Devin Fromm. Available on open access, March 2018.
  • Ecriture, performance et théâtralité dans l’œuvre de George Sand. Co-edited with Olivier Bara. Grenoble, France: ELLUG, 2014. 530 pages.
    [Writing, Performance, and Theatricality in George Sand's Works].
  • Le Flâneur et les flâneuses. Les femmes et la ville à l’époque romantique. Grenoble, France: Ellug, 2007. 440 pages.
    [Women, modernity,and the city in nineteenth-century Paris, with chapters on Walter Benjamin, Balzac, Delphine de Girardin, Flora Tristan, George Sand, and 19th-century panoramic literature].
  • Corps/Décors: Femmes, Orgie, Parodie. With associate editors Gretchen Van Slyke and Gerald Prince. Amsterdam/Atlanta: Rodopi, 1999.
  • La Femme mode d'emploi. Balzac, de la Physiologie du mariage à La Comédie humaine. Nicholasville (Kentucky): French Forum Publishers, 1992. 247 pages.
    [Gender divisions, discipline, and power in Balzac's Analytical Studies and their impact on fetishism and gendered representations in Balzac's Human Comedy].  

Edited Journals

  • Dix-Neuf. Journal of the Society of Dix-Neuviémistes, "Delphine de Girardin: Une écriture expérimentale." 7 (October 2006).
  • The Romanic Review, "Soi-même comme une autre: Flora Tristan et les Pérégrinations d'une paria." 98.1 (January 2007). 187 pages.
  • "L'Oeuvre d'identité: Essais sur le romantisme, de Nodier à Baudelaire." Paragraphes 13 (1996). Co-edited with Didier Maleuvre.

And over 50 articles on nineteenth- and twentieth-century print and visual culture in such journals as French Politics, Culture & Society, SubStance, Michigan Romance Studies, French Forum, L'Année balzacienneRomantisme, Textimage, and in book chapters (see list in attached cv).


Recent Courses:

French 155C:  Breaking the Chain. Gender, Sexuality & Ethnicity in Women’s Writings (France, 18th-21st Centuries)

French 231BPortrait de l’artiste en flâneur. Ville et modernité (Paris, XIXe siècle)

French 231B/Comparative Literature 200: Spectral Cities: Modernity, History, Post/Memory (from Balzac and Baudelaire to Sebald and Sebbar)

Comparative Literature 100: Migrant Tales and Tales Retold. Comparative Literature and/as World Literature

Comparative Literature 113: Trauma, (Post)Memory, Historiography

Comparative Literature 210: Reading Comparatively. Old and New Questions in “Comparative” Literature

German 164E: Franz Kafka: Defying Domination