I have two areas of interest: Women's writing in the long eighteenth century and Francophone literature (Caribbean and Sub-Saharan). All of my work deals with gender in someway. Drawing from both Anglo-American and French traditions, I examine novels in their socio-historical, linguistic and cultural context in which translation is a reoccurring trope, both literal and figurative: translation from one language to another, translation as a way into writing, translation from one culture to another, or from one gender to another. I look at what difference gender makes to the author and the reader as well as how it is inscribed in the text. Drawing upon feminisms, semiotics, deconstruction, postcolonial and gender studies, my research participates in the field of cultural studies. I combine the exploration of archival material, literary and historical, with the exploitation of close textual readings. I started out my career looking at writers as readers and, as such, how their reading filters into their works. In my book, Textual Promiscuities: Eighteenth Century Critical Rewriting (2003), I looked at how Laclos’s great novel, Liaisons dangereuses, reflects his reading and the role that women’s work, both English and French, played in the novel by author’s creative rewriting of them. These literary encounters open up the text to new schemes of meaning. My recent scholarship still revolves around reading, critical rewriting and contextualization, but I have expanded the scope of my scholarship from late mid-century to include the late eighteenth century and the early nineteenth in my work on post-revolutionary novels from 1799 to 1830. I continue to explore how writers and their texts relate, rebuff, or respond to other texts in a network of past, present and future correspondences that make up a larger social discourse. I study texts, novels in particular, that have fallen from notice and have been rendered invisible by historians of literature. These texts, however, made their presence felt in their own time and we can find traces in those works that we classify as canonical, if one looks. These lost or marginalized texts are part of the warp and weft by which canonical authors weave their narratives. It is important to understand the ongoing and larger cultural conversation and context for this tumultuous transitional period.
My second area of interest, Francophone literature, might seem dissimilar to my work in the eighteenth century at first. However, similar issues are at stake as authors’ explore their complex and often conflicted relationship to the dominant culture, rewrite popular or classic narratives from the viewpoint of the Other, explore identity politics of race and gender. The experimentation in narrative voice and form characteristic of many eighteenth century novels links the works to twentieth and twenty-first century ones. In the past five years, the two lines of research have, to a great extent, converged in my editorial work combining the analysis of socio-cultural representations that frame, memorialize and/or de-center historical constructs and new elaborations of race and gender.