Benjamin Hoffmann

Assistant Professor

Benjamin Hoffmann is Assistant Professor of Early Modern French Studies. His research focuses on eighteenth-century French literature and philosophy, with a special interest in the introduction of “new worlds” in French consciousness during the Age of Enlightenment. He is the recipient of several academic awards and prizes including a scholarship for academic excellence from the Sorbonne, the Marguerite A. Peyre Prize for outstanding dissertation, and the Whiting Fellowship in the Humanities.

He’s the author of Posthumous America: Literary Reinventions of America at the end of the Eighteenth Century (Pennsylvania State University Press, 2018), a book examining the literary idealization of a lost American past and investigating the reasons why, for a series of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century French writers, America was never more potent as a driving ideal than in its loss.

His new book, Les Paradoxes de la postérité, will be published by Éditions de Minuit in the Spring of 2019. Focusing on key texts by Diderot, Falconet, Casanova, Chateaubriand, and Sartre, exploring such fields as digital humanities and book history, this work intends to illuminate the paradoxes inherent in the research of symbolic immortality through the power of writing.

Dr. Hoffmann is the author of a critical edition of Lezay-Marnésia’s Letters Written from the Banks of the Ohio (1792), translated by Dr. Alan J. Singerman and published by Pennsylvania State University Press in 2017. He has published essays on authors and topics such as Vivant-Denon, Diderot, Crèvecœur, Casanova, Rousseau, Mallarmé, the Counter-Enlightenment, the Literature of Francophone Louisiana, and Digital Humanities. His articles have appeared in such journals as French Studies, French Forum, Orages, The Southern Quarterly, L’Atelier du roman, Recherches sur Diderot et sur l’Encyclopédie, and Dix-Huitième siècle.

He’s currently working on two projects. The first one deals with the introduction of Buddhism in the Western World during the Early Modern Period and investigates travel narratives about Siam, China, and Japan, as well as French commentaries on Buddhist ethics and metaphysics. The second one is an essay about the interplay of rationality and desire in Early Modern French Literature, especially in the works of Prévost, Laclos, Crébillon, Marivaux, and Casanova.

Seminars and graduate courses taught at OSU include “Introduction to French Studies”, “From the Sun King to WWI”, “French Literature in the Age of Discovery”, “Eighteenth-Century Literary Experiments”, and “Enlightenment and Desire”.

Benjamin Hoffmann is the author of four novels: Le monde est beau on peut y voyager (Bastingage, 2008); Anya Ivanovna (Bastingage, 2010); Père et fils (Gallimard, 2011); and American Pandemonium (Gallimard, 2016).

Areas of Expertise
  • 18th-century French literature and philosophy
  • Transatlantic Studies
  • Creative Writing
  • Licence de Philosophie & Licence de Lettres Modernes, Université Bordeaux III
  • Diplôme de l’École Normale Supérieure (double major in literature and philosophy)
  • Master 2 de Littérature française, Paris IV-Sorbonne (Summa cum laude)
  • Ph.D., Yale University

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Autumn 2018 Office Hours:
Tuesday 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm and by appointment

221 Hagerty Hall
1775 College Rd
Columbus, OH 43210