William Paulson

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William Paulson

Edward Lorraine Walter Collegiate Professor of French
On Leave 2013-2014

Office Location(s): 4224 MLB 1275
Phone: 734.647.2675
wpaulson@umich.edu

  • About

    I'm a scholar of 18th- and 19th-century French literature and culture, and I've also published extensively in literary and cultural theory, concentrating on the forms and institutions of modern literature and their relations to science, technology, history, and society. My last book was an essay on the state of literary studies in the economically, ecologically, and technologically transformed world of the turn of the millennium. Its central questions were whether, how, and why literary culture, increasingly seen as residual in an age of electronic and audiovisual culture, can serve as a resource for knowing and experiencing the world. My current book project, “Reading in Real Time,” is an attempt to situate literary production and reception—and also literary and cultural study—in the dynamics of passing time, with particular emphasis on the ways in which Enlightenment and modernist critical impulses, attuned to the present and future, now constitute a major part of the cultural past, remaining of interest largely to the extent that their critiques, far from having changed the world and thus made themselves obsolete, remain relevant today.

    I am also increasingly interested in the Spanish language, which I've learned to speak in recent years, and its literatures.


    Recent and Selected Publications 


    The Noise of Culture: Literary Texts in a World of Information. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1988.

    Literary Culture in a World Transformed: A Future for the Humanities. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2001.

    "Come Rain or Shine." SubStance, no. 100 (2003): 50-53.


    >>more publications


    Recent graduate courses taught: 


    Balzac and Flaubert
    Enlightenment and its Discontents
    Theory for the 21st Century
    Enlightenment in Context, Then and Now


    Recent undergraduate courses taught:


    First-Year Seminar: Reading in Real Time
    Seminar in Practical French Translation
    French Anti-globalization
    Critical Fictions, Critical Writing

  • Research Areas of Interest
    • 18th- & 19th-Century French Literature
    • Literary Theory
    • Contemporary Literature
    • Relations of Culture, Science, & Technology