McDonald

Christie McDonald

Affiliations
Smith Research Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures and Comparative Literature, Harvard University
Areas of Expertise:
  • American Democracy
  • Higher Education
  • Social Issues

Connect with Christie

About Christie

McDonald’s work has addressed the way in which literature interacts with other disciplines (philosophy, history, anthropology, the arts) on questions ranging from to ethics (how do thinkers balance of liberty and equality?) to aesthetics (how does an author or artist look to or break with the past to engage his or her own time?).  Her special fields have been work from the Enlightenment and the 20th-21st centuries, primarily but not only in the French tradition. McDonald is particularly interested in ways in which Enlightenment ideas (liberty and equality) return in contemporary politics and culture.

Podcast

Publications

French Global A New Approach to Literary History (edited with Susan Suleiman) (Columbia University Press, 2010).

Analyzes literary history in the context of broad geographical and historical contexts rather than national borders; the global approach is defined as “the senese of a globe that is interconnected, of cultural difference within and beyond the nation;”  reading the past as a way to read the present and to connect peoples of the world together in order to see through others’ eyes. Exploration of the relationship between language (in this case French), literature, and culture, and the importance of the humanities in the 21st century. 

Rousseau and Freedom (edited with Stanley Hoffmann) (Cambridge University Press, 2010).

Discusses how the problem of freedom is increasingly compromised and a subject for deep concern.  Presents historical analysis of the relationship between freedom and equality with respect to humankind and to the citizen. Proposes several conceptions of liberty.

"From From Rousseau to Occupy: Imagining a More Equal World" in Rousseau and Dignity: Art in the Service of Humanity, edited by Julia Douthwaite (Notre Dame University Press, 2017), 132-155.

Analyzes the history of Rousseau's thought on empathy and human rights (philosophy, literature, and anthropology).

"Women Writers of the Eighteenth Century" in Femmes. Une Histoire Culturelle, edited by Martine Reid (Gallimard, 2018).

Examines how women began to enter the Republic of Letters as writers during the Old Regime in France, how they stepped at their peril into the public sphere: daring to know and to write involved a double jeopardy for them  from which we can learn today: writing from within a hierarchy (as subjects, they were considered minors and later ‘passive’ citizens), women wrote in fiction and non-fiction about gender equality and freedom, ethics and the sins of history, education, science and truth, and women as humans with rights.

In the News

Christie McDonald's research on Barbara Basbanes Richter. Christie McDonald, "Rethinking the Enlightenment," Fine Books & Collections, March 23, 2018.
"Interview with Christie McDonald and Susan Rubin Suleiman," Christie McDonald, Interview with David Pettersen, Contemporary French and Francophone Studies, January 23, 2015.