Jonathan David Walsh

Professor of French Studies; Chairman, French Studies Department


Meneely 108

*see my door and syllabi for current office hours

(508) 286-3613

(508) 286-8263


A specialist in French Literature of the Enlightenment and Early Modern period,  I enjoy teaching all levels of French Studies, from the language (inseparable from culture) to the films, novels and essays that open up an alternate universe of art and thought, to which we gain access by learning the language.  One of the great rewards of my profession is helping students spend a semester or year in France or another French-speaking country, and to witness the transformation they experience from living and working in another language and culture.


Ph.D., University of California, Santa Barbara
B.A., University of Connecticut, Storrs

Research Interests

I have written primarily on Enlightenment fiction, including novels by Abbé Prévost, Charles de Montesquieu, Claudine Guérin de Tencin.  I have also published papers on Marcel Proust’s A la recherche du temps perdu and Edward Said’s Humanism and Democratic Criticism.  My translation of two novels by Tencin, Memoirs of the Count of Comminge and The Misfortunes of Love appeared in the Iter Press’s The Other Voice in Early Modern Europe Series, no. 48.

Currently I am studying the 17th and 18th-century European salons, especially the role played by women, or salonnières, in the Enlightenment Republic of Letters.

Teaching Interests

I teach courses on French language, culture and literature, especially the novelists, the philosophes and cinema. The French often refer to film as “the Seventh Art,” an indication of its prestige as a genre. In “Introduction to French Cinema” we explore some of the most influential French films, from Jean Renoir to Jacques Audiard. In “Introduction to French Culture” we study what it is to be French, looking at values, education, politics, immigration identity and France in the EU. I also teach a course on Francophone women authors from France, Canada, Haiti, Martinique, Senegal, Cameroun and Tunisia. Through the lense of postmodern French feminist ideas (Cixous, Leclerc, et al), we read the fiction of some great women writers (including Duras, Ernaux, Ba, Beyala, Djebar).   My course on 17th and 18th-century literature, “Moralists and Misanthropes,” takes a thematic approach to the period to understand the rise of individualism and the importance of sociability.  More recently, I have taught a survey of the novel called “Discourses of Love in the French Novel, from classicism to romanticism,” a study of the novel inspired by Roland Barthes’s Fragments d’un discours amoureux. 

In Fall 2021 I look forward to teaching a First-Year Experience (FYE) course on the topic of sound in film with Professor Ann Sears from the Music Department.