Research Expertise and Interest
Early modern French and Italian literature, history and culture, Comparative literature cultural studies, Social and political history of literature, aesthetics, philology, Rare Books and Manuscripts, Archival Studies
Déborah Blocker (ENS Ulm, L 1990) is affiliated with the Designated Emphasis (DE) in Renaissance and Early Modern Studies, with the Doctoral Degree in Romance Languages and Literatures, and with the Department of Italian Studies. She is also founding member of the Groupe de Recherches Interdisciplinaires sur l’Histoire du Littéraire or GRIHL (EHESS/Paris). She specializes in the social and political history of literary practices in early modern Europe, with a particular interest in theater, philological practices, academies, poetics and the history of aesthetics. The history of the book, manuscript culture and paleography are also part of her fields of expertise and play an important role in her teaching.
Her first book (Instituer un “art”: politiques du théâtre dans la France du premier XVIIe siècle, Paris, Champion, 2009) studied the social and political processes through which early modern French theater was instituted into an "art" (1630-1660). This project led her to develop a larger curiosity for the social and political constitution and circulation of discourses on poetry and the "arts" in early modern Europe (1500-1900). Her second book, Le Principe de plaisir: esthétique, savoirs, et politique dans la Florence des Médicis (XVIe-XVIIe siècles) was published by Les Belles Lettres in Paris in 2022. It was a recipent of the Prix Monsiegneur Marcel de l'Académie Française in 2023. This micro-historical project examines the social and political circumstances in which new conceptions of “art” and "aesthetics" emerged in late Renaissance Florence, through an in-depth archival study of the Accademia degli Alterati (1569-ca. 1625).
Professor Blocker is currently developing a comparative research project which aims to study how the arts were used and conceptualized in two major aristocratic families of the 16th and 17th centuries, the Strozzi of Florence and Rome and the Montmorency of France. The project is based on a in depth comparative study of the construction and meaning of two major 17th century funeral monuments, the monument which Marie-Félicie des Ursins constructed in Moulins, France, in memory of her husband, the last duke of Montmorency, and the monument erected by Leone Strozzi in memory of his Strozzi ancestors in the church of Sant’ Andrea della Valle in Rome. She is also working collaboratively with two other colleagues, Ulrike Schneider (Freie Universität, Berlin) and Veronica Vestri (Prato), on a digital edition of two Florentine manuscripts, BMLF Ashburnham, 560 and 561. In these manuscripts, the Alterati of Florence collectively discuss the writing and evaluating of poetry among themselves, engaging in sustained aesthetic discussions.
Professor Blocker holds a doctorat in French Literature (Paris III, 2001) and an habilitation à diriger des recherches (HDR) in Comparative Literature (Paris IV, 2017). She was also the Florence J. Gould Fellow at the Villa I Tatti, Harvard's University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies, located in Florence, Italy in 2010-2011, a senior research fellow at the Cluster of excellence Temporal Communities, Freie Universität, Berlin in 2021 and a senior resident researcher the École Française de Rome in Rome in the spring of 2022.