Indiana University Bloomington
Department of French and Italian

Sonya Stephens

Sonya Stephens

Professor of French
Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education

Office: Maxwell Hall 100
Office phone: 855-8783

Research Areas

Nineteenth-century French literature and culture; literary criticism and theory; literature and the visual arts


  • PhD, French, University of Cambridge, 1990
  • MA, études françaises, Université de Montréal, 1987
  • BA, Modern and Medieval Languages (French & Spanish), University of Cambridge, 1986


My teaching and research focus primarily on nineteenth-century French literature and culture. I have a particular interest in the inter-relationship of different cultural forms, especially literature and the visual arts, and in theoretical perspectives on this. My book on Baudelaire's prose poetry explores poetic and narrative form and its relation to the production of meaning. Although I continue to work on Baudelaire, especially the illustrated editions of Les Fleurs du Mal, and on modern French poetry more generally, my recent work has focused more broadly on literature and culture of the nineteenth century and the way it explores unfinishedness. I am currently completing a book entitled The Art of the Unfinished: Process in Nineteenth-Century France. I am also working on a collaborative research project on the journalist Jules Claretie's La Vie à Paris (1880-1913). In addition to teaching nineteenth-century French literature and culture, I teach a course on translation from and into French.

Selected Publications


Esquisses/ébauches. Projects and Pre-Texts in Nineteenth-Century French Culture, edited by Sonya Stephens (New York, Peter Lang, 2007).

A History of Women's Writing in France, edited by Sonya Stephens (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000).

Baudelaire's Prose Poems: The Practice and Politics of Irony (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999).

Articles and Book Chapters

'Transpositions in the cultural field', Romance Studies, 26 (3), July 2008, 198-209.

'Painting (in) the studio: artful unfinishedness?', in Ebauches/Esquisses: Projects and Pre-Texts in Nineteenth-Century France (Peter Lang, 2007).

Introduction, in Sonya Stephens, ed., Ebauches/Esquisses: Projects and Pre-Texts in Nineteenth-Century France (Peter Lang, 2007), 1-10.

'Paris and Panoramic Vision: lieux de mémoire, lieux communs'. Modern and Contemporary France 14, 2 (May 2006), 173-187.

'Les lectures de l'archilecteur? Readers of/in the Petits Poèmes en prose', Bulletin baudelairien, 40, 1-2 (2006), 67-82.

'The Prose Poems', in Rosemary Lloyd, ed., The Cambridge Companion to Baudelaire (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006) 69-86.

'Esquisse d'incomplétude: Baudelaire, Guys and Modern Beauty' Neophilologus, 89 (2005), 527-38.


  • Le roman au XIXe siècle: fiction, récit, histoire
  • Great Poetry of the Nineteenth-Century
  • Seminar in Literature and the Arts: Problèmes de représentation au XIXe siècle
  • Roman et poésie: L'écriture du moi
  • Reading and Expression in French. Amours et passions: L'écriture du désir

Honors, Fellowships, and Awards

  • Indiana University Summer Faculty Fellowship
  • Fellowship, University of Connecticut Humanities Institute
  • Fellow, Higher Education Academy (UK)
  • Fellow, Royal Society of Arts