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.
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" 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).
Other recent publications include an essay on Keats and form forthcoming in the Blackwell Companion to British Romanticism (ed. Charles Mahoney); "Not Thinking of You as Left Behind: Virgil and the Missing of Love in Hardy's Poems of 1912-13," ELH 75 (2008); and "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.