Marina van Zuylen

Professor of French and Comparative Literature; Director, French Studies Program

Academic Program Affiliation(s): First-Year Seminar, Foreign Languages, Cultures, and Literatures, French Studies

Academic Expertise: French Studies

Area of Specialization: Nineteenth- and twentieth-century French, Russian, German comparative literature


A.B., M.A., Ph.D., Harvard University. Author, Difficulty as an Aesthetic Principle (Tübingen, 1993); Monomania: The Flight from Everyday Life in Literature and Art (Cornell University Press, 2005). Recent articles include "The Secret Life of Monsters" in Beyond the Visible: The Art of Odilon Redon; “Difficulty,” Encyclopedia of Aesthetics; “Of Degenerates, Criminals, and Literary Offenders”, “The Importance of Being Lazy,” and "Fatigued" in Cabinet; “Maghreb and Melancholy,” Research in Francophone Literature; “Monomanie à deux,” Etudes Françaises. Awards include Lurcy Fellowship; Council on Research and Faculty Development Grant, Columbia University; Sheldon Fellowship, Whiting Fellowship, Harvard University; Bard Research Grant. (1997– )


  • Research Interests: History of the novel, representation of private life, philosophies of temporality;; currently writing about neutrality and disengagement in recent criticism; idleness and the work ethic in Franco-American cultural history; history of marriage in the nineteenth century; representation of suffering in psychiatric literature
  • Teaching Interests: Comparative literature, First-Year Seminar, French literature, and intellectual history; philosophical approaches to the novel; Baudelaire and nineteenth-century aesthetics; German Romanticism; French women writers
  • Other Interests: Animal Rights; history of boredom; modernist aesthetics; asceticism in art and literature; art in the nineteenth-century novel


2008 — Contribution
Marina van Zuylen was educated in Paris, France. She received her B.A. in Slavic Languages and Literatures and her Ph. D. in Comparative Literature from Harvard University. She has taught at Harvard in the Literature Concentration and was Assistant Professor of French in the Department of French at Columbia University. She is now Professor of French and Comparative Literature at Bard College, where she chairs the Literature Program.

She is the author of Difficulty as an Aesthetic Principle (Tübingen, 1993) and Monomania : The Flight from Everyday Life in Literature and Art (Cornell University Press, 2005). Recent articles include "Am I a Snob? Are you a Snob? Musings on the Fragility of Good Taste" Equinoxes 9, "Of Degenerates, Criminals, and Literary Offenders" and "The Importance of Being Lazy" (Cabinet); "Maghreb and Melancholy" (Research in Francophone Literature);"Monomanie à deux" (Etudes Françaises), and "The Secret Life of Monsters," an essay on Odilon Redonfor the Museum of Modern Art’s Redon exhibition. She is presently working on a book about idleness vs. the work ethic in the Franco-American imagination (audio-lecture on sloth at



Phone: 845-758-7381