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Michael Taormina

Associate Professor, PhD, Columbia University, Seventeenth-Century French Literature, Translation



  • Columbia University
    Ph.D. in French and Romance Philology, May 2002.
      Dissertation:  The Rhetoric of French Baroque Poetry, 1600-1635.
    M.A., Spring 1994.
  • University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA)
    M.A. in Comparative Literature, 1992.
    B.A. in French and English Literature, 1990.


  • Hunter College, CUNY, Associate Professor with Tenure, 2010.
  • Hunter College, CUNY, Assistant Professor of French, 2005-2010.
    Hunter College, CUNY, Substitute, 2003-2005.
    SUNY New Paltz, Adjunct Professor, 2002-2003.


The Dangerous Art of Rhyme 
Ethos and Virtue in French Poetry of the Early Seventeenth Century:  Malherbe, Théophile de Viau, Saint-Amant & Voiture

  • These lyric poets essentially worked as publicists for the Bourbons and other powerful nobles, and so their poetry had an explicit sociopolitical purpose:  to represent the ruling elite as the embodiment of virtue.  The term was as crucial to monarchal authority as it was to aristocratic identity, and in publishing their patrons' merits to the aristocratic public, poets were inevitably drawn into the social and political battles that preoccupied the ruling elites of their day.  The art of rhyme was dangerous because poets hung their fate on the success or failure of metaphor, which is notoriously hit-or-miss.  Its outcome is impossible to control.  Consequently, poets turned to ethos, or character, a rhetorical technique that uses example to induce persuasion.  As one can imagine, this poetry is deeply ideological.  Its style is also wildly extravagant.  Treatments of these poets have tended to neglect an analysis of ideology to focus on style.  This is an oversight my book aims to correct by showing how stylistic differences amount to very different social and political commitments. .


  • “Noble Selfhood and the Nature Poetry of Saint-Amant” in Spaces and Self in Early Modern European Cultures, eds. David Warren Sabean and Malina Stefanovska (University of Toronto Press, Clark Memorial Library Series, Regents of California, 2012) 134-150.
  • “The Rival Virtues of Drink:  Cider, Water, and Wine in Seventeenth-Century Encomiastic Poetry,” Nourritures:  Actes du 40e congres de la North American Society for Seventeenth-Century French Literature, Lafayette College, 24-26 avril, 2008, ed. Roxanne Lalande, Biblio 17, vol. 138 (Tübingen:  Gunter Narr Verlag, 2010) 67-76.
  • “Ribald Wit in Voiture’s ‘Poésie Galante’” in Cahiers du dix-septième:  An Interdisciplinary Journal, 2010, XIII.1, 17-31.
  • “Ecrire à la moderne : L’atticisme de Théophile” in Origins:  Actes du 39é congrés de la North American Society for Seventeenth-Century French Literature, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 10-12 mai 2007 eds. Russ Ganim and Tom Carr, Biblio 17, vol. 180 (Tübingen:  Gunter Narr Verlag, 2009) 339-344.
  • "L'Ourika de Claire de Duras:  Allégorie révolutionnaire, Allégorie de la Révolution," trans. Michèle Bocquilon, in Afrique et Africains au siècle des Lumières, eds. Michèle  Bocquillon, Catherine Gallouët et al., special issue, Society on Voltaire and the Eighteenth Century, 2009, 141-153.
  • “Magnanimous Women:  Gender and Souls in Corneille’s Tragic Theater” in Cahiers du dix-septième:  An Interdisciplinary Journal, 2008, XII.1, 38-60.
  • “Poetry and Power:  Théophile’s ‘Franchise’ and the Limits of Clientage, 1621-1623,” The Romanic Review, vol. 93, no. 4 (Nov. 2002) 427-453.
  • “Decorum:  The Intersection of Eloquence and Action” in Classical Unities: Place, Time, Action, Actes du 32é congrés de la North American Society for Seventeenth-Century French Literature, Tulane University, 13-15 avril 2000, ed. Erec R. Koch Biblio 17, vol. 131 (Tübingen:  Gunter Narr Verlag, 2002) 363-369.
  • “Guez de Balzac,” Dictionary of Literary Biography:  Seventeenth-Century French Writers, ed. Françoise Jaoüen (South Carolina:  Bruccoli Clark Layman, 2002) 19-27.


  • “Mimesis and Persuasion:  The Hybrid Character of Early Seventeenth-Century Lyric Poetry” at NASSCFL (North American Society for Seventeenth-Century French Literature), May 21-23, 2009, New York University, New York, New York.
  • “The Rival Virtues of Drink” at NASSCFL (North American Society for Seventeenth-Century French Literature), April 24-26, 2008, Lafayette College, Easton, Pennsylvania.
  • "Saint-Amant's Nature Poetry and the Extravagant Self” at Spaces of the Self in Early Modern Culture, Nov. 30-Dec. 1, 2007, UCLA, Los Angeles, California.
  • “Figures of the Unspeakable in Voiture” at SE-17 (Society for Interdisciplinary French Seventeenth-Century Studies), 8-10 November, 2007, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut.
  • "Gender and Souls in Corneille's Tragic Theatre" at SE-17 (Society for Interdisciplinary French Seventeenth-Century Studies), October 12-14, 2006, The University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa.
  • “La noblesse nègre d'Ourika” at the American Society of Eighteenth-Century Studies, March 30-April 2, 2006, Montréal, Canada.
  • "Montaigne's 'Ethos:'  A Portrait of the Soul" at the Renaissance Society of America, March 21-24, 2006, San Francisco, California.
  • “Sweet Misanthropy:  Boileau Talks with his Wit,” paper given at the SE-17 2004 Conference, College of William & Mary, Williamsburg, VA, October 28-30, 2004.
  • “Method or Error:  Cartesian ‘ethos’ in Discours de la méthode,” paper given at the 11th Biennial Conference of the Rhetoric Society of America in Austin, Texas, May 2004.
  • “Deleuze’s Signature Style:  ET…ET…ET…”, International Colloquium of 20th Century and Contemporary French Studies, the University of Connecticut, April 4-7, 2002.


  • Deleuze, Gilles.  Two Regimes of Madness, 1975-1995 (Deux régimes de fous), Semiotext(e), 2006, 384 pp.  Co-translated with Ames Hodges.
  • Marie, Emmanuelle.  CUT, 2006.  Published in Act French:  An Anthology, edited by Philippa Wehle (Performing Arts Journal, 2007), 30 pp.
  • Virilio, Paul and Sylvere Lotringer.  The Accident of Art, Semiotext(e), 2005, 120 pp.
  • Deleuze, Gilles.  Desert Islands and Other Texts, 1953-74 (L’île deserte et autres texts), Semiotexte, 2004, 414 pp.
  • Ionesco, Eugene.  Journeys in the House of the Dead (Voyages chez les morts), 2003.  Commissioned by Division 13 Productions.  Artistic Director:  Joanna Settle.  Performed at the Here Theater in January, 2004, 70 pp.
  • Virilio, Paul and Sylvere Lotringer.  Crepuscular Dawn: The Genetic Bomb, Semiotext(e), 2002, 164 pp.
  • Derrida, Jacques.  “Deconstructions:  The Im-Possible” in French Theory in America, eds. Sandy Cohen and Sylvere Lotringer (New York:  Routledge, 2000) 13-31.


  • Chaired a special-session panel “Poetry as an Educative Tool in the French Republic of Letters” at the 2008 MLA Convention in San Francisco.  Three speakers will explore the relation of pedagogy and poetry in the French rhetorical tradition from La Fontaine to Ponge.
  • Chaired roundtable discussion on “‘L’ennui’ in Pascal’s Pensées” for 'Rage, Folie, & Deséspoir:  Excess and the Passions in Early Modern France,' the annual conference of the French Interdisciplinary Group for Seventeenth-Century Studies, the Graduate Center, New York, New York, October 5, 2007.
  • Presented a close-reading of Théophile de Viau's "La Première Journée" on a roundtable chaired by Francis Assaf at NASSCFL (North American Society for Seventeenth-Century French Literature), University of Nebraska, Lincoln Nebraska, May 10-12, 2007.


February 2013