Liesl Yamaguchi sitting with bookcase in background

Research Expertise and Interest

poetics, linguistics, literary theory, 19th century literature, modern poetry

Research Description

Liesl Yamaguchi is Assistant Professor in the Department of French, specializing in 19th-century French literature, poetics, linguistics, literary theory, and translation. 

Her first book On the Colors of Vowels: Thinking Through Synesthesia is forthcoming in the Verbal Arts Series of Fordham University Press. It asks why poets and scientists of the nineteenth century began imputing colors and brightnesses to vowels and studies how these discourses were valorized and invalidated as synesthesia came to be constituted as a legitimate object of modern science. Reading the literary and scientific histories together, On the Colors of Vowels suggests how synesthesia more subtly construed might be seen to inflect many arts and sciences of modernity.

Professor Yamaguchi is also an active translator from Finnish and French, most notably of Väinö Linna’s Unknown Soldiers (Penguin Classics, 2015), and she is currently co-editing a new volume of essays titled Literature as Sound Studies. Other recent publications have appeared in New Literary History, French Studies, Nineteenth-Century French Studies, and Common Knowledge.

Professor Yamaguchi is the recipient of the Ralph Cohen Prize for the best essay by an untenured scholar (New Literary History, 2018), High Commendation for the 2020 Publication Prize of the Society of Dix-neuviémistes, and the Vivien Law Prize for the best essay by an early-career researcher on any topic in the history of linguistics (Henry Sweet Society, 2022).

B.A., Columbia University
M.St., University of Oxford
Ph.D., Princeton University

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