Professeur au département de français, Université de Tel Aviv, Israël
Period of residence: 
22 février - 13 juillet 2016 - en partenariat avec le Conseil départemental des Bouches du Rhône
Research project: 
Political Thought in Early Modern France of the 16th and 17th centuries
Summary of the research project: 

The Renaissance saw an increasing number of authors using a variety of literary genres to express new political visions. What set these authors apart was that they were associated with positions of power, as chancellors, parliamentarians and above all secretaries of state ministers. Their writings became evidence of an emerging political thought. At the crossroads of praxis and theory, the authors, as political “insiders,” criticized the political system, while suggesting improvements or even reforms based on an ethics newly acquired from Humanism.

In France, the arrival of the Valois dynasty with François I, the fragility of power under each of Catherine de Medici's sons, and thirty years of religious wars had led to the need for arbitration. The new generation of state administrators had been trained in the best law schools of Europe. They were supporters of the humanist movement and held the belief that the state’s interests could no longer be determined by the personal ambitions of a handful of families or even a dynasty whose policies were the subject of severe criticism. Beyond the religious divide and often because of the turmoil resulting from the Wars of Religion, political reflections on the organization of power, methods of checking and regulating state spending and the decisions made by the royal family regarding diplomacy and war made their way into many texts. By encouraging these reflections on the political system, religious and political crises determined the birth of the new European political awareness on the threshold of modernity. But these political and religious upheavals were in fact the consequences of a deeper change taking place – a change in the understanding of the world by a new elite, originally hailing from the bourgeoisie to which the authors comprising the focus of the proposed research were drawn. Carrying out the duties of their offices defined their status and their identities, but also the authority of their writings. They often found themselves in conflicting situations as they were expected to control finances and implement the laws of the state, which were jeopardized by the demands of the nobility and of various parties.

On the basis of these lines of investigation, this study proposes to systematically analyze French Renaissance political writing, focusing on discourses, pamphlets, treatises and memoirs as the dominant forms of writing expressing political ideas. As such, the research should provide a comprehensive understanding of both the nature and contents of the political thought in the Renaissance, showing that it relied upon people’s growing ability to conceive of the world through abstract notions and that the new political thought deriving from this ability can express itself in various genres using different modes – ranging from serious political treatises to satirical pamphlets.

Lien(s) web: 


Born in Paris, residing in Tel Aviv since 1978; married to Yaron Tsur, mother of Oren & Alona Mandel.

BA & MA studies in the departments of French Literature and General History, Tel Aviv University

PhD dissertation written under the supervision of Prof. Jean Céard, at the University of Nanterre-Paris X.

Associate Professor at Tel Aviv University since 2010.

My main research deals with the emergence of Memoirs in Early Modern France. Rather than focus on the historicity of this genre's content, I am interested in identifying the categories used by the memorialists in order to situate themselves within the national narrative. The rediscovery of major works from Antiquity, colored by medieval Christian traditions, shaped new ways of expression, eventually crystalizing in the notion of the modern Renaissance individual, whose involvement in the life and times of his or her country ensured them a new measure of valorization. (Se dire à la Renaissance, Paris, Vrin, 1997)

I have paid special attention to Protestant authors, as well as to women memorialists. In the latter context I have edited Madame de Mornay’s Memoirs, Paris, Champion, 2010. (I also wrote several articles on Jeanne d’Albret and Marguerite de Valois dealing with the nature of their testimonies and their articulations of gender)

I’m also interested in the rhetoric and the argumentative dimension of the memorialist’s discourse and this is the subject of a collection of articles I have gathered in Ecriture de soi et argumentation, Presses Universitaires de Caen, 2000.

The dissident dimension of most of the Memoirs written during the religious wars in France is one of the most thought provoking aspects of this kind of writing. I consider authoring Early Modern Memoirs an act of freedom with a subversive intent aim of articulating a specific version of the memorialist’s personal contribution to the nation despite his or her being at odds with those in power. One finds traces of this struggle in the Memoirs of this period and even a genuine line of dissident thought and discourse in the making. In this latter context I have also written a few articles on Rabelais’ satire and edited together with Mathilde Bernard a collection of articles : L’expression de la dissidence dans les genres littéraires au moment des guerres de religion, Dossiers du GRIHL, (2013), on line.