Todd W. Reeser
- Chair, Dept. of French & Italian
- Professor of French
- Secondary appointment: Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies
- Pronouns: he/him/his
Area of Interest
PhD, French Studies, University of Michigan
MA, French Studies, University of Michigan
BA, Oberlin College (French & Classics)
Research Interests & Fields of Study
Todd Reeser works at the intersection of French studies and gender/sexuality studies, broadly construed. His research combines cutting-edge theoretical approaches with contextualized close-readings of a variety of types of texts. His temporal frames are the early modern and the 20th/21st-centuries (including the relation between the two).
His first book Moderating Masculinity in Early Modern Culture (University of North Carolina Press, 2006) proposes a model of masculinity and alterity based on an Aristotelian notion of moderation. In the Renaissance, masculinity is often aligned with the virtue of moderation (in the guise of the “moderate man”), as it positions its various others (e.g. women, sodomites, Amerindians) as excessive and lacking. These analogies between quantity and gendered subjectivities remain with us today. Reeser’s 2016 monograph, Setting Plato Straight: Translating Ancient Sexuality in the Renaissance (University of Chicago Press), deals with the complicated question of the reception of Platonic sexuality in philosophical and fictional texts of the European Renaissance, from Leonardo Bruni in the early 15th century to Michel de Montaigne in the late 16th. Comparative and comprehensive in scope, the book studies how hermeneutics and sexuality do and do not dovetail in a variety of textual-sexual contexts as “Platonic love” in Plato’s erotic sense became purified “platonic love” in today’s sense. The book won the Gordan Prize for best book in Renaissance studies from the Renaissance Society of America in 2017. In 2018, Reeser published a translation/edition of one of the very first French feminist Renaissance texts (The Ship of Virtuous Ladies by Symphorien Champier, from 1503). Having edited several volumes and published many articles in Renaissances studies, he is now working on a project “Essaying Affect” on ways in which Montaigne’s Essais relate to affect, arguing that this sophisticated text should be integral to the pre-Spinozan history of affect.
Reeser also works in contemporary gender/sexuality studies. In 2010, he published Masculinities in Theory (Blackwell), now a widely-cited monograph providing a series of theoretical models for considering masculinity studies from a literary/cultural perspective, especially as inflected by post-structuralist thought. The book synthesizes key approaches already in place and proposes new models. His more recent work extends that project into the relation between affect studies and masculinity.
He is currently working on a monograph “Transgender France: Universalism and Sexual Subjectivity,” studying how the inception and development of the category of transgender/transsexual in France starting in the 1950s relates to political ideas on the “universalist” citizen. The corpus includes film, documentary, television, medicine, law, journalism, tabloids, autobiography, theatre, graphic novel, and novels. The project was supported by a senior EURIAS Fellowship at the Collegium de Lyon in 2018-19. Reeser also publishes on twenty-first century French queer/trans* film and is in medias res on a book for Manchester UP ("French Film Directors" series) on queer French film of the 21st-century.
Reeser enjoys working with graduate students writing dissertations in all areas of gender/sexuality studies (as director and as committee member), and he welcomes new PhD students interested in being part of a vibrant community of scholar-teachers working in these areas. Potential graduate students are invited to contact him. He has directed dissertations in many areas of French studies, and he mentors his students to help them connect their work with theoretical approaches and with current Humanistic approaches from across the disciplines. He coordinates the gender/sexuality research network in the department. He teaches graduate and advanced undergrad courses on gender and sexuality in French and in English.
He served as the inaugural Associate Director of the Pitt Humanities Center, and then as Acting Director in AY2011-12. From 2013-18, he served as Director of the Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies Program. He is now Chair of French and Italian.
Queer Productions: French Cinema in the Twenty-first Century. In progress, under contract.
The Routledge Companion to Gender and Affect, in development
Transgender France: Universalism and Sexual Subjectivity, in progress.
Théorie littéraire et littérature française de la Renaissance (Paris: Garnier, 2020?), edited volume, with David LaGuardia. In press.
Symphorien Champier, The Ship of Virtuous Ladies, edition and translation of La nef des dames vertueuses, in “The Other Voice in Early Modern Europe” series (Toronto, 2018).
“Montaigne, Affects, Emotions,” special issue of Montaigne Studies (2018), with 14 original articles plus introduction.
“Masculinity and Affect” and “Complicating the Emotions of Men and Masculinities.” NORMA: International Journal for Masculinity Studies, with Lucas Gottzén (2017/2018). Two double issues.
Setting Plato Straight: Translating Ancient Sexuality in the Renaissance (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2016). 418 pp. Winner of the 2017 Phyllis Goodhart Gordan Book Prize for best book in Renaissance Studies, awarded by the Renaissance Society of America.
"Transgender France," special issue of Esprit Créateur (Spring 2013).
“The Idea of France,” co-edited special issue of Contemporary French and Francophone Studies (Sites). (Spring 2013).
Approaches to Teaching the Works of François Rabelais, co-edited with Floyd Gray (New York: Modern Language Association, 2011). In book series "Approaches to Teaching World Literature."
Masculinities in Theory (Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2010). 236 pp.
“Entre hommes”: French and Francophone Masculinities in Theory and Culture, co-edited with Lewis Seifert (University of Delaware Press, 2008).
Moderating Masculinity in Early Modern Culture (Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina Press, 2006).
"French Masculinities," special issue of Esprit Créateur (Fall 2003), co-edited with Lewis Seifert.
Numerous articles on Renaissance literature/culture, gender/sexuality studies, critical theory, and French film in journals such as Romanic Review, French Review, Romance Quarterly, Modern and Contemporary France, and Exemplaria.
Selected Awards and Honors
EURIAS senior residential research fellowship, Collegium de Lyon (France), 2018-19
Renaissance Society of America: Phyllis Goodhart Gordan Book Prize, 2017 (for Setting Plato Straight)
Solmsen Fellowship, Institute for Research in the Humanities, University of Wisconsin-Madison (year-long residential fellowship, 2012-2013)
Kraus Fellowship in Rare Books, Beinecke Library, Yale University
Folger Shakespeare Library Fellowship, Washington DC, (short-term fellowship)
Harry Ransom Center Research Fellowship, University of Texas, Austin
Residential fellowship at the Herzog August Bibliothek in Wolfenbuttel, Germany, 2008
Various teaching and research grants, U Pittsburgh, 2005-present
NEH Long-term Fellowship, National Humanities Center, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, 2003–04
Short-term Fellowship, Newberry Library, Chicago, 2004
- Gender and Sexuality in 21st-century France
- Gender, Sexuality, French Thought (taught in English)
- French Cultural Studies: "L’Idée de la France"
- Medieval and Renaissance Literature
- Masculinity: Theory, Film, Culture
- Montaigne in Dialogue (graduate)
- Gender and Sexuality in the French Renaissance (graduate)
- Contemporary Perspectives on the French Renaissance (graduate)
- Birth of a Nation: France and Frenchness in the Renaissance (graduate)
- Rabelais (graduate)
- French Studies, Gender Studies (graduate "network" seminar)
- Introduction to Literary and Cultural Theory (graduate, interdisciplinary course)
- Masculinities in Theory and Practice (graduate, interdisciplinary course)
- Queer Theories (graduate, interdisciplinary course)