Department of French and Romance Philology  







Madeleine Dobie



Professor of French

Francophone/postcolonial literature; colonial history; 18th-century culture
510 Philosophy Hall
(212) 854-9874

Teaching and Research

My teaching and research areas include francophone/postcolonial literatures and cinemas of North Africa, the Middle East and the Caribbean and the cultural dimensions of migration and diaspora. I also teach and write about eighteenth-century French culture, particularly with regard to orientalism, colonialism and the history of slavery.

My most recent book, co-written with historian Myriam Cottias, is a critical re-edition of two mid twentieth-century novels by the Martinican writer, Mayotte Capécia. Our introductory essay explores the convergence of race, gender, colonialism and the Vichy regime that formed the context of these two polygraphic texts.

For details see: Armand Colins.

My latest monograph, Trading Places, examines the place of slavery in eighteenth-century French literature, philosophy and material culture, particularly textiles and furniture. It focuses on the longstanding silence surrounding colonial slavery and on processes of displacement and disavowal.

For details see: Cornell University Press.

Current Projects

My current book project, After Violence, is about literature and cinema in contemporary Algeria. I look both at how memories of the ‘Black Decade’ of the 1990s are finding expression in the arts, and at new developments in Algerian culture, for example the establishment of new publishing ventures, and the emergence of new literary voices and forms.

Other work in progress includes an essay on the Thousand and one Nights in the Maghreb and a piece on Montesquieu’s Persian Letters as a migration narrative.

I’m also the co-director of Columbia’s Paris-Amman Middle-East/North Africa summer program, an intensive Arabic language course combined with a cultural and historical seminar.

Selected Bibliography


Relire Mayotte Capécia. Une Femme des Antilles dans l’espace colonial français, 1916-1955 (Armand-Colin, 2012)

Trading Places: Colonization and Slavery in Eighteenth-Century French Culture (Cornell University Press, 2010)

Foreign Bodies. Gender, Language and Culture in French Orientalism (Stanford University Press, 2001); Reissued in paper, 2003.

For details see: Stanford University Press.

Book Translation:

Smothered Words (Northwestern University Press, 1998) [Translation of: Sarah Kofman. Paroles suffoquées (Galilée, 1987)]. For details see: Google Books.

For details see: Google Books.

Edited Volumes:

Africans in France/France in Africa. Special issue, Comparative Studies in South Asia, Africa & the Middle East 26:2, 2006. Co-editor with Rebecca Saunders

Thinking the Postcolonial in French. Special issue, Romanic Review. Forthcoming, fall 2013. Co-editor with Emmanuelle Saada,

Selected Book Chapters and Articles:

“Between Land and Language: Djebar’s Algerian Obituary,” forthcoming in PMLA

“A Thousand Retellings: Hanan Al-Shaykh’s One Thousand and One Nights, a Retelling,” Public Books, July 2014

“For and Against the Mediterranean: Francophone Perspectives,” Comparative Studies in South Asia, Africa and the Middle East, 34:2, 2014

“Captifs, ôtages, corsaires et terroristes: le discours méditerranéen à travers les disciplines,” Rue Descartes, Revue du Collège international de sociologie, June 2013

“Joséphine Baker et Mayotte Capécia : race et genre dans deux biographies transcoloniales,” with Myriam Cottias. Forthcoming in Le Postcolonial comparé(Presses universitaires de Vincennes, 2013)

"Patrimoine mobilier : entre colonialisme et orientalisme,” Les patrimoines de la traite négrière, In Situ, forthcoming, spring 2013

“Postcolonialism,” Romanic Review 100th anniversary issue, 101: 3, fall 2011

“The Enlightenment at War,” PMLA 124: 5, 1851-54, October 2009

“Going Global: Diderot, 1770-1784,” Diderot Studies 31, 2009, 7-23.

“Translation in the Contact Zone. Antoine Galland’s Thousand and one Nights: Arab Tales.” The Arabian Nights in Historical Context. Between East and West, eds. Felicity Nussbaum & Saree Makdisi (Oxford University Press, 2008)

“Invisible Exodus: the Cultural Effacement of Antillean Migration,”
 Diaspora: a Journal of Transnational Studies 13: 2/3, 2004 (2008), 149-83)

Introduction, with Rebecca Saunders, “Africans in France/France in Africa,” Comparative Studies in South Asia, Africa & the Middle East 26:2, 2006, 178-90

“Orientalism, Colonialism & Furniture in Eighteenth-Century France,” Furnishing the Eighteenth Century, eds. Dena Goodman & Kathryn Norberg (Routledge, 2006), 13-37

“Sarah Kofman,” Edinburgh Dictionary of Continental Philosophy
 (Edinburgh University Press, 2005), 341-42

“Duc de Saint-Simon,” Dictionary of Literary Biography 314, 148-56
 (Bruccoli, Clark, Layman, 2005)

"Francophone Studies & the Linguistic Diversity of the Maghreb,” Comparative Studies in South Asia, Africa & the Middle East 23:1, 2003, 32-40

 “Literature and Colonialism: the Case for Cultural Studies,” Studies in Early Modern France vol. 6, 2001

 “Exotic Economies and Colonial History in the Esprit des lois,” Studies on Voltaire and the Eighteenth Century 362, 1998, 145-167

 “Sarah Kofman’s Paroles suffoquées: Autobiography, History and Writing ‘After Auschwitz’,” French Forum 22: 3, September 1997, 319-341

“La Rhétorique du rapprochement dans l’Itinéraire de Paris à Jérusalem,” Revue des sciences humaines 247, July-September 1997, 63-87

“Graffigny’s Writing Subject: Language and Identity in the Lettres d’une Péruvienne,” The Eighteenth Century: Theory and Interpretation 38:2, 1997, 99-117

“Montesquieu’s Political Fictions: Oriental Despotism and the Representation of the Feminine,” Transactions of the Ninth International Congress on the Enlightenment, Studies on Voltaire and the Eighteenth Century 348, 1996, 1336-1339

“‘Langage inconnu’: Montesquieu, Graffigny and the language of Exile,” Romanic Review 87: 2, March 1996, 209-224

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