Alison Calhoun

Photo of Alison Calhoun

Assistant Professor of French
Adjunct Assistant Professor of Theatre & Drama | (812) 856-6731 | GA 3145

Research Areas

  • Early Modern French Drama (theater, opera, ballet, festivals)
  • Intellectual and cultural history of the French Renaissance
  • Relationship between music and literature


  • PhD, French, Johns Hopkins University, 2009
  • BA, French and Voice, Johns Hopkins University, 2002


My research focuses on the cultural and intellectual history of the Renaissance and extends to the 17th and 18th centuries to study genre, reception (theater), and morality. My approach is interdisciplinary (philosophy and literature, music and literature) and often fits into the categories of history of the book, reception theory, and genre studies.

My book manuscript A Transverse Self: Montaigne and the Lives of the Philosophers situates Montaigne and Diogenes Laertius in the history of life writing in the Renaissance and Classical Age in France.

In my current research project, Motion and Emotion in Early Modern French Drama, I am exploring the reading, staging and stagecraft of composite drama (court ballet, machine plays, comedy-ballets, and opera). With key authors like Balthasar de Beaujoyeulx, Honorat de Bueil de Racan, Honoré D'Urfé, Jean Mairet, Pierre Corneille, Isaac de Benserade and Philippe Quinault, I aim to show that the libretto, parallel to and concurrently with the novel, trained readers not only to imagine greater fictional possibilities than before, but also to feel (sometimes to practice) more diverse emotions.

Selected Publications



  • “Tongue-Tied: Fairground Theater and the Essence of Comedy,” European Drama and Performance Studies, 2 (2014): 135-154.
  • “The Court Turned Inside Out: Dignity and Emotions in Louis XIII’s Burlesque Ballet,” in New Approaches to French Renaissance Drama, ed. Michael Meere (Delaware University Press, 2014). Forthcoming
  • "The Architecture of Arcadia: Lully, Quinault, and the Complicit Spectator of the Tragédie en Musique," Seventeenth Century French Studies, 33, No. 2 (2011): 114-26
  • "Montaigne and the Comic: Exposing Private Life." Philosophy and Literature, Volume 35, Number 2 (October 2011): 303-319
  • "Montaigne's Two Plutarchs." Montaigne Studies. XXI, Nos. 1-2 (2009): Montaigne et les philosophes: 103-114
  • "Redefining Nobility In the French Renaissance: The Case of Montaigne's Journal de voyage." Modern Language Notes French Edition, 123, 3 (September 2008): 835-53

Co-edited Books

  • Rethinking the Medieval Senses: Heritage/Fascinations/Frames. Calhoun, Kablitz, Nichols (eds.) Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008.
  • Rethinking the New Medievalism. Bloch, Calhoun, Cerquiglini-Toulet, Küpper, Patterson (eds.) Baltimore, Johns Hopkins University Press, 2014.

Courses Taught

  • F825: Early Modern Drama and the Arts (1571-1691)
  • F451: French Literature and Music
  • F375: The Heroine in French Theater
  • F300: The Rebel in French Literature
  • F300: Exploring the Self
  • F300: Prosaic, Poetic and Theatrical Identities
  • F313: Advanced Grammar

Honors, Fellowships, and Awards

  • New Faculty Fellow, American Council of Learned Societies, 2010-2012
  • Postdoctoral Lecturer, Université de Paris - Diderot (Paris 7), 2008-2009
  • Louis Marin Fellow, École Normale Supérieure (Ulm), Paris, 2006-2007
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