Michelle C. Lee

Andrew W. Mellon Assistant Professor of French and Francophone Studies

Research focus: nineteenth-century French literature; Interested in postcolonial nineteenth-century studies; travel writing and photography; theories of Orientalism; modern continental thought.

With a background in Comparative Literature, Michelle Lee specializes in nineteenth-century French literature and has additional training in postcolonial theory and modern continental thought. Her research interests include travel writing, theories and practices of Orientalism, photography, the nineteenth-century novel, and the literature of Francophone Indian Ocean islands. Her current book project, entitled Imitating Orientalism: Re-Orienting Nineteenth-Century French Travel Writing, Photography and Literature, considers the impact of cross-cultural encounter on nineteenth-century French representational practices. Studying nineteenth-century travel documentation as an articulation of postcolonial culture in France, this book argues that practices of Orientalism put into question discourses of mastery tied to colonial expansion. In addition, she has also published articles on Honoré de Balzac, Charles Baudelaire and Ananda Devi.

Professor Lee enthusiastically explores conversations developed from her research with students in the classroom. She teaches French language as well as French literature seminars on topics such as “Self and Society in the Nineteenth-Century Novel” and “Itinerant Tales: Literary Voyages and Voyagers in the Global Nineteenth Century.” In the classroom, she is committed to working closely with students to think critically and historically about literature and culture as a way to situate oneself in a global world.

Prior to joining the French Department at Wellesley College, she has taught French language and literature as well as first-year writing seminars at institutions of higher education throughout the Northeastern United States. When not in the classroom and thinking about French literature, Professor Lee enjoys spending time with her partner and two sons: learning about birds that might visit their New England backyard and exploring parks around Wellesley.