Thomas C. Connolly

Thomas C. Connolly's picture
Associate Professor of French (with Tenure on 7/1) and DUS (from 7/1)
Humanities Quadrangle, 320 York St., Room 385

320 York St., Room 385

Thomas C. Connolly obtained his BA in Modern Languages from the University of Oxford in 2002. He studied at the École normale supérieure (Ulm) as “élève de la Sélection internationale” between 2002 and 2005, completing a “Maîtrise” and a “DEA” at the Université de Paris IV–La Sorbonne. He received a PhD in Comparative Literature from Harvard University in 2012.

Thomas’s research interests include nineteenth-, twentieth-, and twenty-first-century French, francophone, European, and Maghrebi poetry, with emphasis on the prose poem, ekphrasis, and, more broadly, how literature relates to the visual arts.

His new book, A Poetic Genealogy of North African Literature, forthcoming with Northwestern University Press (, takes as its point of departure a comment by Abdelkébir Khatibi, who speaks of poetry as a form of dissymmetry that exposes readers to the unexpected, and to the possibility of a transformative encounter with the text. Drawing on literary, philosophical, theoretical, and theological texts in multiple languages and scripts, as well as on the visual arts, this book delves into the poetic works of Khatibi alongside six other Maghrebi authors – Jean Amrouche, Tahar Djaout, Nabile Farès, Mohammed Khaïr-Eddine, Abdelwahab Meddeb, and Jean Sénac – as well as the French poet Arthur Rimbaud, to think anew about the origins and legacy of Francophone poetry in the Maghreb. Instead of turning away from the poetic when it becomes indecipherable, A Poetic Genealogy of North African Literature engages poetic texts on their own terms, allowing them to dictate the search for meaning, thereby expanding our understanding of what Maghrebi literature in French was, is, and might become.

Thomas is also the author of Paul Celan’s Unfinished Poetics: Readings in the Sous-Oeuvre (Cambridge: MHRA/Legenda, 2018 [hardback] / 2019 [paperback], and was the guest editor of a double issue of Yale French Studies 137-138 (2020) entitled “North African Poetry in French.”

Selected Articles:

“Primitive Passions, Blinding Visions: Arthur Rimbaud’s ‘Mystique’ and a Tradition of Mystical Ekphrasis.” PMLA 132.1 (2017): 101-118. [Awarded the Fifty-Fourth Annual William Riley Parker Prize for an Outstanding Article in PMLA, Modern Language Association, 2017].

“2e livraison du 10 mars, Leconte de Lisle” in: Le Parnasse contemporain. Recueil de vers nouveaux. (1866). Édition critique sous la direction d’Henri Scepi et Seth Whidden (Paris: Classiques Garnier, 2024).

“Fantaisies à la manière de Rimbaud” in : Les Romantismes de Rimbaud, ed. Adrien Cavallaro. La Revue des lettres modernes (Paris: Classiques Garnier, 2024): 113-132.

“Paul Celan’s Other Tongue: David Rokeah, Hebrew, and the Problem of Bilingualism.” Forthcoming in Zäsuren / Caesurae. Paul Celans Spätwerk / Paul Celan’s Later Work, ed. Chiara Caradonna and Vivian Liska (Göttingen: Wallstein, 2024).

“Cassandra, Caesurae, and the Cry of Swallows: Between Paul Celan and André du Bouchet.” Lifelines: Paul Celan’s Poetry and Poetics after 100/50 Years, eds. Christine Ivanovic and Klaus Weissenberger (Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann, 2022): 173-195.

Incipit: On Poetry and Crisis,” with Liesl Yamaguchi. Nineteenth-Century French Studies 50.1-2 (2021-2022): 1-49.

“Mohammed Khaïr-Eddine’s Secret Music.” Sounds Senses, ed. Yasser Elhariry. (Liverpool UP, 2021): 79-97.

“Translating the Night: On Paul Celan and Fragment 178 of René Char’s Feuillets d’Hypnos.” Celan at 100 – A Companion, ed. Michael Eskin, Karen Leeder, and Marko Pajević (De Gruyter, 2021): 57-77.

“Corporeal Fantasies, False Bodies: Ways of Seeing in Abdelwahab Meddeb’s PhantasiaExpressions maghrébines 19.2 (2020): 135-155.

“Editor’s Preface: Prelude to North African Poetry in French.” Yale French Studies 137-138 (2020): 1-10.

“Orpheus, pied-noir: Sartre, Sénac, and the Poetics of Algerian Becoming” in Manuela Consonni and Vivian Liska (ed.), Sartre, Jews and the Other: Rethinking Antisemitism, Race, and Gender (De Gruyter, 2020): 227-242.

“Rembrandt, Mandelstam, et les limites de l’ekphrasis,” in Paul Celan, ed. Bertrand Badiou, Clément Fradin, and Werner Wögerbauer (Paris: Éditions de l’Herne, 2020): 179-186.

“Fleurs arctiques: ‘Barbare’ à la lumière d’Ovide.” Parade sauvage: revue internationale d’études rimbaldiennes 30 (2019): 169-189.

“Rimbaud islamique? Le vertige artificiel de ‘Fleurs’.” Parade sauvage: revue internationale d’études rimbaldiennes 29 (2018): 199-218.

“Walking in Colour: Another Look at Musical Ekphrasis through Marc Chagall’s Jerusalem Windows.” Mosaic 51.1 (2018): 161-178.

‘Baroque et belle’: Dirty Prose, Photos, and Other Subtle Secrets in Mallarmé’s ‘Le Nénuphar blanc’.” Romanic Review 108.1-2 (2018): 233-252.

“Berber Spider: Tahar Djaout, Arachne, and the Afterlife of Oral Poetics.” MLN 133.4 (2018): 1099-1122.

“‘Splendides et salomoniques’: On Temples in Mallarmé.” French Studies Bulletin 37.1 (2016): 1-3.

“Baudelaire the Frequent Flyer: Prostitution, the Press, and How the Prose Poem Almost Sold its Soul.” Romance Notes 55.3 (2015): 463-474. 

“Oils, Psalms, and Scum: Anadyomene Paint and the Limits of Ekphrasis in Paul Celan’s ‘Einkanter: Rembrandt’.” Modern Philology 111.4 (2014): 841-861.

““Keine Schönschrift für Schulkinder”: Towards a Poetics of the Pre-Text in Paul Celan’s Eingedunkelt.” Compar(a)ison (2013 [2017]): 107-130.

Selected Reviews:

Abdelkébir Khatibi: Postcolonialism, Transnationalism, and Culture in the Maghreb and Beyond, ed. Jane Hiddleston and Khalid Lyamlahy. Liverpool: Liverpool UP, 2020.” Forthcoming in Journal of Arabic Literature 45.3-4 (2023): 439-445.

“Robert St. Clair, Poetry, Politics & the Body in Rimbaud: Lyrical Material. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018” and “Seth Whidden, Arthur Rimbaud. London: Reaktion Books, 2018” in French Forum 44.3 (2019): 456-465.

“Ludmila Charles-Wurtz and Judith Wulf (ed.), Lectures des Contemplations. Rennes: Presses universitaires de Rennes, 2016” in Nineteenth-Century French Studies 46.3-4 (2018).

“Daniel Albright, Putting Modernism Together: Literature, Music, and Painting 1872-1927. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2015” in Studies in 20th & 21st Century Literature 41.2 (2017).

“Dominique Billy, Les Formes poétiques selon Baudelaire. Paris: Honoré Champion, 2015” in Nineteenth-Century French Studies 45.3-4 (2017).

Courses include:

French Poetry and the Invention of Modern Life (Fren 092)

Nineteenth-Century French Poetry (Fren 220)

Modern French Poetry (Fren 236)

Mad Poets (Fren 270 / Litr 284 / Germ 214)

Paul Celan (Fren 340 / Gman 232 / Hums 429 / Jdst 286 / Litr 232)

The Prose Poem (Fren 345)

Ekphrasis (Fren 347 / Hsar 280)

Baudelaire (Fren 350 / Hums 355 / Litr 115)

Caribbean Poetry in French (Fren 370 / Afst 377 / Afam 371)

North African French Poetry (Fren 425 / Mmes 360 / Afst 425)

Derrida among the Poets (Fren 770 / Cplt 770) (graduate)

The Prose Poem (Fren 880) (graduate)

Modern French Poetry in the Maghreb (Fren 885 / Cplt 735 / Afst 885) (graduate)

Stéphane Mallarmé (Fren 911) (graduate)