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Pauline Goul specializes in early modern literature, environmental criticism, and cultural and visual studies. She received her PhD in Romance Studies from Cornell University, where she was awarded the Dean’s Prize for Distinguished Teaching. She also holds a Maîtrise and double B.A. from the Université Paris 4 la Sorbonne in English Literature and Lettres Modernes.
She is currently working on her first book, An Ecology of Waste, examining the emergence of early forms of anxiety in the human relationships to the nonhuman environment. She explores the notion of waste as crucial to the construction of a notion of ecology in the early modern period. Bridging Renaissance France and modern ecological thought both in the Francophone world and in Anglophone productions, her work has been published in the Forum for Modern Languages Studies and in volumes like Global Garbage and French Ecocriticism. Additionally, she is currently editing, with Phillip John Usher (NYU), a volume entitled Early Modern Écologies, forthcoming with the University of Amsterdam Press, on the theoretical intersections between early modern French literature and ecocriticism. More recently, she is looking at the relationship between humor and the sense of vanity in early modern literature, art, and modern theater (théâtre de l’absurde).
Her teaching interests range from contemporary French society to intercultural competence, to striving to foster the critical thinking beyond the notion of modernity. Last Fall at Cornell, her first-year writing seminar Understanding Charlie Hebdo was designed to offer a thorough understanding of the context for Charlie Hebdo through readings of early modern French satirical literature; discussions would compare a caricature from the magazine to a caractère by La Bruyère, for instance. Her course Early Modern Écologies aims at complicating the general understanding of ecology as a recent endeavor in history, through the canonical texts of the period.