Katherine Ibbett, a scholar of 17th-century French literature and culture, is a reader in French at University College London. Her research explores the relations between literary and political discourses in early modern Europe.
At Radcliffe, Ibbett will work on a book about compassion in early modern France. The book will draw on a range of genres—novels, tragedies, religious treatises—to pursue the political inflections of the language of fellow-feeling that flourished in the century or so after France’s wars of religion. This is not an optimistic book: Ibbett suggests that far from demonstrating kindliness toward the other, the language of compassion has historically pointed to a fracture in the social bond.
Ibbett received her BA from Oxford University and her MA and PhD from the University of California, Berkeley. Prior to arriving at University College London, she taught at the University of Michigan. Her work has been supported by the Doreen B. Townsend Center for the Humanities and Michigan’s Institute for the Humanities. Her publications include The Style of the State in French Theater, 1630–1660 (Ashgate, 2009). In 2013, an issue of Yale French Studies titled “Walter Benjamin’s Hypothetical French Trauerspiel,” coedited with Hall Bjornstad, will be published. In summer 2013, she will be a distinguished international visitor at the Australian Research Council’s Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions.