Maurice Samuels

Maurice Samuels's picture
Betty Jane Anlyan Professor of French and Chair
Humanities Quadrangle, 320 York St., Room 369


Harvard University, A.B. (1990), A.M. (1995), and Ph.D. (2000)

Maurice Samuels specializes in the literature and culture of nineteenth-century France. He is broadly interested in investigating the origins of our cultural modernity, tracing how new forms of subjectivity—and new ideas about history, politics, race, and the novel—took shape in the period following the French Revolution. 

He is the author of five books and several edited volumes.  The Spectacular Past: Popular History and the Novel in Nineteenth-Century France (Cornell, 2004), examines the creation of new forms of historical representation — including panoramas, boulevard theater, and novels — in post-Revolutionary France. Inventing the Israelite: Jewish Fiction in Nineteenth-Century France (Stanford, 2010), brings to light the first Jewish fiction writers in French in the mid-nineteenth century. It won the Scaglione Prize, given by the Modern Language Association for the best book in French studies, and was translated into French (Hermann, 2017). The Right to Difference: French Universalism and the Jews (Chicago, 2016) studies the way French writers and thinkers have conceived of the place of Jews within the nation from the French Revolution to the present. It also won the MLA’s Scaglione Prize for the best book in French Studies and was translated into French (La Découverte, 2022). The Betrayal of the Duchess (Basic, 2020) resurrects a forgotten historical scandal that led to modern France’s first antisemitic affair. He co-edited a Nineteenth-Century Jewish Literature Reader (Stanford, 2013) and edited Les grands auteurs de la littérature juive au XIXe siècle (Hermann, 2015). 

A recipient of the Guggenheim Fellowship and of the New York Public Library Cullman Center Fellowship, he has published articles on diverse topics, including romanticism and realism, aesthetic theory, representations of the Crimean War, boulevard culture, and writers from Balzac to Zola. He served as chair of Yale’s Judaic Studies Program and has directed the Yale Program for the Study of Antisemitism since 2011.  

His new biography of Alfred Dreyfus was published in the Jewish Lives series (Yale University Press) in February 2024. 

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