Anne-Lise François

Associate Professor

Anne-Lise François joined the Departments of English and Comparative Literature at the University of California at Berkeley as an assistant professor in 1999, after receiving her doctorate in Comparative Literature from Princeton University. Her teaching and research focus on (mostly) 19th-century British, American and European (French and German) fiction, poetry and thought, with some excursions into the 17th, 18th, and early 20th centuries. She has taught courses on the modern period in British and American literary history, Henry James, Emily Dickinson, as well as seminars and graduate courses in the Comparative Literature Department on European “Green” Romanticism and aesthetic theory, and on the writing and epistemology of love; her current teaching focuses on the convergence of literary and environmental studies. In areas as diverse as contemporary food and farming politics and debates on climate change and the temporality of environmental violence, she continues to seek alternatives to Enlightenment models of heroic action, productive activity, and accumulation, and to identify examples of the ethos of recessive fulfillment and non-actualization theorized in Open Secrets.

Current Research: 

Anne-Lise François's book - Open Secrets: The Literature of Uncounted Experience (Stanford University Press, December 2007), was awarded the 2010 René Wellek Prize by the American Comparative Literature Association. A study of the ethos of affirmative reticence and recessive action found in the fiction of Mme de Lafayette and Jane Austen, and the poetry of William Wordsworth, Emily Dickinson and Thomas Hardy, Open Secrets argues that these works make an open secret of fulfilled experience, where the term "open secret" refers to non-emphatic revelation--revelation without insistence and without rhetorical underscoring. This ethos locates fulfillment not in narrative fruition but in grace understood both as an economy or slightness of formal means and a freedom from work, in particular the work of self-concealment and self-presentation. Questions of how to value unused powers and recognize inconsequential action also inform her essay on Wordsworthian “natural piety" and genetically engineered foods (Diacritics, Fall 2005), as well as an earlier article on the gentle force of habit in Hume and Wordsworth (The Yale Journal of Criticism, April 1994). Her current book project "Provident Improvisers: Parables of Subsistence from Wordsworth to Benjamin" and focuses on figures of pastoral worldliness, provisionality, and commonness (with "common" understood in the double sense of the political antithesis to enclosure and of the ordinary, vernacular, or profane).



Anne-Lise François
Monograph, 2007

Selected Publications

“Receding Margins: Black Rice and the Rhythms of Tidal Transfer,” special issue “Environment and Loss,” The Yearbook of Comparative Literature, Vol. 65 (2018, published 2022).

“Fire, Water, Moon: Supplemental Seasons in a Time Without Season,” Climate Realism: The Aesthetics and Atmosphere of Weather in the Anthropocene, ed. Lynn Badia, Marija Cetinic, and Jeff Diamanti (Routledge, 2020)

“Passing Impasse,” for a special issue of Comparative Literature on “Impasse” (ed. Jan Mieskowski and Taylor Schey, 2020) 

“‘. . . and will do none’: Gewalt in the Measure of a Parenthesis,” Critical Times 2:2 (August 2019) 

“Ungiving Time: Reading by the Light of the Anthropocene,” Anthropocene Reading, ed. Tobias Menely and Jesse Oak Taylor (Penn State University Press, 2017) 

“‘Shadow Boxing’: Empty Blows, Practice Steps, and Nature’s Hold,” Qui Parle 25.1-2 (Winter 2016)

“Taking Turns on the Commons (or Lessons in Unenclosed Time),” River of Fire: Commons, Crisis, and the Imagination, ed. Cal Winslow (Boston: Pumping Station Press, 2016) 

 “Unstored Energies: Dickinson’s ‘Precarious Gait’ and the Sway of Threadbare Lines,” Minnesota Review 85 (2015) 

“‘A Little While’ More: Further Thoughts on Hartman’s Nature as Paraclete,” Essays in Romanticism, 22.2 (October 2015) 

Untitled contribution to “About Geoffrey Hartman: Materials for a Study of Intellectual Influence,” special issue of Philological Quarterly, ed. Frances Ferguson and Kevis Goodman, 93.2, Spring 2014.  

"Late Exercises in Minimal Affirmatives," Theory Aside, ed. Jason Potts and Daniel Stout. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2014 

"Passing Judgment, Conceding Perfection: Third-Person Narration and Versions of the Cavellian Secular," special issue of Romantic Praxis: "Cavell and Romanticism," ed. Eric Lindstrom;  2014.

“Flower Fisting,” Postmodern Culture 22.1, September 2011 (appeared July 2012)    

‘Untouched by morning -- /And untouched by noon –‘: Succession Without Sequel,” European Romantic Review 23.3, June 2012

“‘The Feel of Not to Feel It,’ or the Pleasures of Enduring Form,” Blackwell Companion to British Romanticism, ed. Charles Mahoney. London: Wiley Blackwell, 2011 

“‘Not Thinking of You as Left Behind’: Virgil and the Missing of Love in Hardy’s Poems of 1912-13,“ ELH 75 (2008)

“Unspeakable Weather, or the Rain Romantic Constatives Know” in Phantom Sentences: Essays in Linguistics and Literature Presented to Ann Banfield, ed. Robert S. Kawashima, Gilles Philippe and Thelma Sowley. Bern: Peter Lang, 2008  

“‘Hum-men’: In Place of Further Development,” (In Honor of Geoffrey Hartman) The Wordsworth Circle, Winter 2006

“‘O Happy Living Things’: Frankenfoods and the Bounds of Wordsworthian Natural Piety,” Diacritics, Summer 2003 (published 2005), reprinted in Between Terror and Freedom: Philosophy, Politics and Fiction Speak of Modernity, ed. Simona Goi. Lexington Books, 2006 

“The Starring of Loss in Wordsworth and Dickinson,” European Romantic Review 15.2, June 2004 

“’Don’t Say I Love You’: Agency, Gender and Romanticism in Mary Shelley’s Matilda,” co-authored with Daniel Mozes, in Mary Shelley: Fictions from Frankenstein to Falkner, ed. Nora Crook and Michael Eberle-Sinatra.  Macmillan Press, Ltd, 2000  

“Fashion as Compulsive Artifice” in The Seventies: The Age of Glitter in Popular Culture, ed. Shelton Waldrep. Routledge Press, 2000

“‘Fakin’ it/Makin’ it: Falsetto's Bid for Transcendence in 1970s Disco Highs,” Perspectives of New Music, Spring 1996

 “To Hold in Common and Know by Heart: The Prevalence of Gentle Forces in Humean Empiricism and Romantic Experience, The Yale Journal of Criticism, April 1994  


Wheeler Hall, room 453

Classes Taught