Gilbert Chaitin

Gilbert Chaitin

Professor Emeritus, French

Professor Emeritus, Comparative Literature


  • Ph.D., Romance Languages and Literatures, Princeton University, 1969
  • M.A., Romance Languages and Literatures, Princeton University, 1965
  • A.B., Philosophy, Princeton University, 1962

Research areas

  • 19th- and 20th-century French & European novel, thesis novel
  • Theory, criticism and rhetoric
  • Literature and psychoanalysis, philosophy, politics, education

About Gilbert Chaitin

I have taught undergraduate and graduate courses on French language, masterpieces of French literature, 19th-century French novel, theater and poetry, European literature of the 19th and 20th centuries, theory and criticism, and graduate seminars on recent theoreticians such as Lacan, Derrida, Irigaray and Foucault.

In recent years I have been studying debates concerning the universal and the particular in 19th- and 20th-century politics and literature, and the relations among fantasy, ideology and narrative in 19th-century French fiction, especially in novels of education during the Third Republic, including writers such as Sartre, Benda and Bergson, Bourget, Barrès, Zola and Anatole France, Vallès and Erckmann-Chatrian, Réval and Compain. My current research project is a book-length study of “George Sand and the Politics of the Thesis Novel.”

Publication highlights


  • The Enemy Within: Culture Wars and Political Identity in Novels of the French Third Republic. Columbus, OH: The Ohio State University Press, 2008.
  • Culture Wars and Literature in the French Third Republic. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Scholars Press, Editor (2008).
  • Rhetoric and Culture in Lacan. London: Cambridge University Press, 1996.


  • “Le cauchemar de (la) Vérité, Ou le rêve du revenant,” Cahiers Naturalistes, 2008.
  • “Education and Political Identity: The Universalist Controversy,” Yale French Studies 113 (Spring 2008): 77-93.
  • “‘France is my mother’: The Subject of Universal Education in the French Third Republic,” Nineteenth-Century Prose 32.1 (Spring 2005): 128-158.
  • “Nationalist Ext(im)asy: Maurice Barrès and the Roots of Fascist Enjoyment,” Tickle Your Catastrophe. London: Palgrave Macmillan, forthcoming.
  • “Sand and the Politics of the Thesis Novel: Mademoiselle la Quintinie’s Evil Empires,” George Sand et l’Empire des lettres. New Orleans: Presses Universitaires du Nouveau Monde, 2004. 73-82.
  • “Transposing the Dreyfus Affair: The Trauma of identity in Zola’s Vérité,” Australian Journal of French Studies 38.3 (September-December 2001): 430-444.
  • “From the Third Republic to Postmodernism: Language, Freedom, and the Politics of the Contingent,” MLN 114.4 (September 1999): 780-81.

Honors, fellowships, & awards

  • NEH Fellowship, twice
  • Member, School of Social Sciences, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, NJ.
  • Camargo Foundation Fellowship