Francis B. Assaf
Distinguished Research Professor 2004
Francis B. Assaf, Professor of French, researches 17th and 18th century French literature and culture. His recent book, 1715: Le Soleil s’éteint, examines the year of King Louis XIV’s death, which is considered to be the “hinge” year between Post-Classicism and the Pre-Enlightenment. Dr. Assaf re-created the historical context for 1715, summarizing the daily news and intellectual environment. In his previous book, La Mort du roi: une thanatographie de Louis XIV, Dr. Assaf studies the death of Louis XIV through official literature, funeral orations, and vituperative writings. His first book, Lesage et le picaresque, analyzes the work of the French author Alain-René Lesage (1668-1747), who wrote narratives about roguish (anti)heroes. Harvard University’s Professor Tom Conley described Dr. Assaf as a “scholar’s scholar who knows the works that enabled Marivaux, Montesquieu and Voltaire to write what they did.” In addition to publishing texts, critical editions and numerous peer-reviewed articles, Dr. Assaf founded SE17, a society to study 17th century France, which has grown into an international organization. He also founded the journal Cahiers du Dix-Septiéme and served as president of the North American Society for Seventeenth-Century French Literature. In 2001 the French government awarded him the title of Chevalier dans l’ordre des Palmes Académiques.