Indiana University Bloomington
Department of French and Italian

Margaret Gray

Margaret Gray

Associate Professor of French
Director of Undergraduate Studies—French

Office: Ballantine Hall 629
Office phone: 855-7884
View CV

Research Areas

The twentieth-century French and francophone novel in sociocultural context; narrative dynamics; reading practices


  • PhD, Yale University, 1986
  • BA, Smith College, 1978


When asked what book has most influenced me, I don't have to think too hard. In the wake of undergraduate and graduate theses on Proust, my first book looked at ways in which his A la recherche du temps perdu, generally read as the culmination of the great nineteenth-century narrative tradition, also anticipated much experimental writing of the twentieth century. I argued for reading him, in other words, through the round-trip loop of the "futur antérieur", of writing that "will have been." By that point, craving action, movement, spectacle, as an antidote to the endless and oppressive Proust bibliography, I got interested in narrative dynamics of theatricality. I began noticing strategies by which display, generally animated by agendas of veneration or seduction, actually served instead—curiously—to displace the spectator or reader. My current work studies dynamics of display across a range of novels: from canonical works of the Hexagon, to African colonial and post-colonial narratives, to detective fictions. I argue that in these highly gendered dynamics, display—as displacement—becomes politicized as struggle, resistance or repression. Such interests, including gender, sociocultural contexts and reading practices, also inform my teaching, which focuses on twentieth-century prose fiction.

Selected Publications


  • Postmodern Proust. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1992.


  • “Cross-undressing in Colette: Performance, gender and music-hall labour practice.” French Cultural Studies 23 (August 2012): 202-214
  • Eells, Emily & Margaret Gray “Proust à la page dans The New Yorker.” Revue des Deux Monde (June 2013)
  • "Narcissism, Abjection and the Reader(e) of Beauvoir's Les Belles Images." Forthcoming in Studies in Twentieth and Twenty-First Century Literature.
  • "Layers of Meaning in Camus's La Peste," in Cambridge Companion to Camus, ed. Edward J. Hughes. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007
  • "Proust in Postmodern Perspective," in Approaches to Teaching Proust, ed. Elyane Dezon-Jones and Inge Crosman Wimmers. Publications of the MLA: NY, NY, 2003
  • "Pascal in the Bathtub: Parodying the Pensées." Symposium 51.1 (Spring 1997).
  • "Beckett Backwards and Forwards: The Rhetoric of Retraction in Molloy." French Forum 19 (May 1994)
  • "Silencing the (M)Other Tongue in Sand's François le Champi." Romanic Review 83.3 (1992): 339 356


  • Proust in Context
  • Histoires d'Amour: Idéal et Trahison
  • Politique des Femmes Ecrivains au Xxème siècle
  • The Belle Epoque and Beyond
  • De l'Angoisse au Délire : le roman au Xxème siècle

Honors, Fellowships, and Awards

  • Instructional Development Grant, Dean of Faculties, Indiana University, 1998
  • Teaching Excellence Recognition Award, Trustees of Indiana University, 1998