March 30, 2006
Vol. 25 No. 13

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    French give Meltzer high academic honor

    By Jennifer Carnig
    News Office

    Françoise Meltzer

    Françoise Meltzer, the Mabel Greene Myers Professor in Comparative Literature and the College, has been named by the French government Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Palmes Académiques (Knight in the Order of the Academic Palms).

    The consul general of France will present the award during a Monday, May 1 ceremony in the Tea Room of the Social Science Research Building.

    The honor is the highest distinction in France for academics and artists and is given to “those who have contributed to the development of arts, letters and sciences or those who have distinguished themselves within the university.”

    The Palmes Académiques is an order founded in 1808 by one of France’s most widely known figures, Napoleon Bonaparte, as an award for devotion and accomplishment in the areas of teaching and research. Since 1921, the prime minister and the minister of education of France have conferred the award.

    Considered to be the French equivalent of membership in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Meltzer is the third current faculty member to receive the honor, joining Philippe Desan, the Howard L. Willett Professor in Romance Languages & Literatures and the French Graduate Advisor, and Thomas Pavel, the Gordon J. Laird Distinguished Service Professor in Romance Languages & Literatures.

    Meltzer’s award citation notes she is a “remarkable researcher;” editor of Critical Inquiry, the “famous review of American literary theory;” “author of several well-known articles and books;” and that she produced “many important analyses concerning the second part of the 19th century in France.”

    “I am honored,” said Meltzer of the award. “I’m very glad that my work is being recognized. I have always tried to emphasize the far-reaching significance of the critical theory explosion that started in France, and to make that come alive for my students. It’s very gratifying to be noticed for that.”

    Meltzer came to the University in 1975 directly after she finished her doctoral degree at the University of California, Berkeley. A native of France, her scholarship includes work on contemporary critical theory and 19th-century French literature.

    Her most recent book is For Fear of the Fire: Joan of Arc and the Limits of Subjectivity, which explores the gendering of subjectivity from within the context of Joan of Arc’s trial. She also has written Hot Property: The Stakes and Claims of Literary Originality and Salome and the Dance of Writing: Portraits of Mimesis in Literature.

    As a comparatist, Meltzer integrates German and English literature into her work as well as French. She has been co-editor of Critical Inquiry since 1982.

    Meltzer is currently working on two projects, a book on the French Revolution of 1848, and how it created a historical and literary rupture, and a book that picks up where her work on Joan of Arc left off, looking further into the gendering of subjectivity.