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Benjamin Hoffmann

Portrait Hoffmann

Benjamin Hoffmann

Associate Professor of French, Director of the Center of Excellence, & Director of Graduate Studies


221 Hagerty Hall
1775 College Rd
Columbus, OH 43210

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Areas of Expertise

  • 18th-century French Literature and Philosophy
  • Transatlantic Studies
  • Contemporary French Literature
  • Creative Writing


  • Ph.D., Yale University
  • MA and MPhil, Yale University
  • Diplôme de l’École Normale Supérieure
  • Master 2 de Littérature française, Paris IV-Sorbonne (Summa cum laude)
  • Licence de Philosophie, Bordeaux III
  • Licence de Lettres Modernes, Bordeaux III

On leave from 06/01/2024 to 12/31/2024


I am an Associate Professor of French and a creative writer. A native of France, I received a licence de philosophie and a licence de lettres modernes from the Université Bordeaux III, as well as a master’s degree in French Literature from the Sorbonne. I am also a graduate in literature and philosophy of the École Normale Supérieure (Ulm). Following the completion of my Ph.D. at Yale University, I joined the faculty of The Ohio State University in 2015. I am the recipient of several fellowships and awards, including the Whiting Fellowship in the Humanities, the Marguerite A. Peyre Prize for outstanding dissertation, and a creative writing fellowship from the National Book Center (France). I am  the founding director of the Center of Excellence at Ohio State, which promotes Franco-American relations and the dissemination of French and Francophone culture in the US. Within the Center of Excellence, I lead the Jules Verne Writing Residency, a creative writing residency that welcomes French-speaking novelists to Columbus. Via French Press, its YouTube literary channel, the Center of Excellence conducts regular interviews with novelists and thinkers who make the headlines in France. More information on our website: 


Research Interests

My research focuses on eighteenth-century French literature and philosophy, with a special interest in the introduction of “new worlds” in French culture during the Age of Enlightenment. I have published a monograph on the representations of America in eighteenth-century French literature, a critical edition of Lezay-Marnésia’s Letters Written from the Banks of the Ohio (1792), and a second monograph on the concept of posterity.

I am also the author of essays on writers and topics such as Vivant-Denon, Diderot, Voltaire, Crèvecœur, Casanova, Montesquieu, Rousseau, the Counter-Enlightenment, the literature of Francophone Louisiana, and Digital Humanities. My articles were published by such journals as French Studies, French Forum, Orages, Eighteenth-Century Fiction, Dix-Huitième siècle, Recherches sur Diderot et sur l’Encyclopédie, Études françaises and Eighteenth-Century Studies. My op-eds and book reviews have appeared in Le Monde, La NRF, La Règle du Jeu, H-France, Diacritik, Fabula, and Contreligne.

My creative work intersects in many ways with my academic interests. I am the author of six novels exploring themes and issues such as exile and the representation of otherness; nostalgia and the experience of bereavement; disinformation and the social impact of new technologies; the legacies of the Enlightenment and the Age of Discovery; and America’s history–real and reinvented–as well as its troubled present. My essays and short stories have been published or are scheduled to appear in Ploughshares, Analyse Opinion Critique, Les ÉcritsL'Atelier du roman, EuropeBastille Magazine, and various edited volumes, including Bella Italia and Écrivains d'Italie (Éditions de Grenelle, 2021 & 2023). More information on my website:


Current Projects

I have recently published two novels, L’Île de la Sentinelle (Gallimard, 2022) and Les Minuscules (Gallimard, 2024). L'Île de la Sentinelle tells the story of North Sentinel Island, located in the Bay of Bengal and home of the Sentinelese, one of the last uncontacted tribes on earth. This novel was published in Italian translation by Gremese Editore and in English translation by Liverpool University Press. Les Minuscules engages with the literary tradition of magical realism to depict the encounter between Giacomo Casanova and the diminutive creatures described in his 1787 novel, L'Icosaméron. Throughout his extensive travels across Europe and North America, Casanova chances upon a wide array of historical figures, such as Chateaubriand, Sade, Washington, and Louis XVI, as he strives to change the course of French history amidst the turbulent era of the Revolution.

I am currently supervising the completion of four different projects:

  • A new novel dedicated to 19th-century American history and the birth of paleontology.  
  • An introduction to the Natchez for the new edition of the Complete Works of Chateaubriand, forthcoming with Éditions Honoré Champion in 2024.
  • An introduction to The Spirit of the Laws by Montesquieu, forthcoming with Éditions Gallimard in 2025.
  • An issue of Diderot Studies dedicated to Diderot and posterity, forthcoming with Éditions Droz in 2025.

Awards & Fellowships (selection)

  • Bourse de Création littéraire. National Book Center (France). 2024 
  • Havens Award for Best Book for L’Isola della Sentinella. OSU. 2023 
  • Prix de la Vingt-Cinquième heure du livre for L'île de la Sentinelle. 2022
  • Havens Faculty Research Prize. OSU. 2022
  • Humanities and Arts Discovery Theme Grant. OSU. 2017
  • Marguerite A. Peyre Prize for Outstanding Dissertation. Yale. 2015
  • Whiting Fellowship in the Humanities. Yale. 2014-2015
  • John D. and Rose H. Jackson Pre-Prospectus Fellowship. Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale. 2012
  • Berthe Corr and James Corr Memorial Fellowship. Yale. 2010-2012
  • Scholarship for Academic Excellence. Université Paris IV-Sorbonne. 2008-2009

Recent Courses

  • French 2101: Introduction to French Studies
  • French 4401: Creative Writing in French
  • French 4401: The Interactive Enlightenment
  • French 4401: America in French Eyes – 18th-21st century
  • French 5202: French Literature in the Age of Discovery
  • French 5401: From the Sun King to World War I
  • French 5601: Center of Excellence Colloquium 
  • French 8802: Eighteenth-Century Literary Experiments (Graduate seminar)
  • French 8802: Enlightenment and Desire (Graduate seminar)
  • French 1803.01: Virtual Paris (online seminar)
  • French 1803: Global May Paris (Study abroad program)


Book reviews available here.


Creative Writing

Critical Editions

Edited Volumes  

Books in Translation

Portrait: © John C. Kieger (New Image Photography)