Pierre Saint-Amand has research interests in the literature of the eighteenth-century, the philosophy of the Enlightenment, the French and Haitian Revolutions, literary criticism, and theory. His first book, Diderot: Le Labyrinthe de la relation (1984), was devoted to the philosophical and scientific writings of Denis Diderot. He has written on the novel, especially the libertine novel, in The Libertine’s Progress: Seduction in the Eighteenth-Century Novel (1994). Another book, The Laws of Hostility: Politics, Violence, and the Enlightenment (1996) offers a reading of the political writings of the philosophes through the lens of an anthropology of violence. His most recent essays are The Pursuit of Laziness: An Idle Interpretation of the Enlightenment (2011), a study of the resistance to the ideology of work at the dawn of capitalism, and Suite libertine: Vies du XVIIIe siècle (2021), that provides an alternative history of French libertinage, one away from the famous war of the sexes. He is preparing a new book, Les Lumières et la nuit: Obscurités du XVIIIe siècle.
Pierre Saint-Amand has edited two erotic novels of the 18th century, the best-seller Thérèse philosophe and Confession d’une jeune fille, both in Gallimard’s Romanciers libertins du XVIIIe siècle (2000, 2005). He has also published on the literature of the twentieth and twenty-first century on authors such as Marguerite Duras, Roland Barthes, Hervé Guibert, Pascal Quignard and Abdellah Taïa.
Before coming to Yale, Pierre Saint-Amand taught at Brown University where he was the Francis Wayland Professor of French and Comparative Literature. He was recognized as the Walter H. Annenberg Distinguished Professor of the Year in 1995.
Pierre Saint-Amand was named Chevalier in the Order of the Palmes Académiques in 2001.
Reasoning with Voltaire (FREN 368)
Passions and Politics in the Theater of the Ancien Regime (FREN 321)
Lovers and Libertines of the Ancien Regime (FREN 389)
Proust Interpretations (FREN 403/HUMS 409, co-taught with Prof. Bloch)
Margins of the Enlightenment (FREN 861)
The Libertine Novel (FREN 877)
Theories of Marie-Antoinette (FREN 903)
Slavery and the French Enlightenment (FREN 867)