Célia Abele

Cotsen Postdoctoral Fellow in the Society of Fellows Lecturer in the Council of the Humanities and French and Italian


Célia Abele  holds a Ph.D. in French and Comparative Literature from Columbia University, an M.A. in Littératures comparées from Paris IV (Paris-Sorbonne), and a B.A. in English Literature and Philosophy from Trinity College, Dublin. Her research interests span the 18th to the 20th centuries; her work draws on literary studies, history of science, comparative literature, intellectual history, and material and visual culture, focusing particularly on France and Germanophone Europe.

She is writing her first book, with the tentative title "From Feuilles to Fossils: Documenting Self and World." It focuses on the documentary and research practices of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Georg Lichtenberg, Alexander von Humboldt, Emile Zola, Walter Benjamin, and W.G. Sebald to argue that they belong to a tradition originating in the Enlightenment that gives the document a central place in the process of mediation between the self and the world. Her research on the project so far has been supported by a Mellon International Humanities Travel Grant, the ACLS/Mellon Dissertation Completion Fellowship, and funding from the Humanities and Social Science Research Fund at Princeton.

Her publications have appeared in Nineteenth-Century French Studies and Eighteenth-Century Studies; a piece on how Rousseau's Rêveries du promeneur solitaire is a foundational moment in the formation of literary prose realism from eighteenth-century scientific practices is forthcoming in Romanic Review. Other articles in progress or under review concern the representation of chemistry in Diderot and d'Alembert's Encyclopédie, Zola's museal practices of documentation for his novel-series the Rougon-Macquart, and a piece on how reference to Balzac's natural historical framework for the Comédie humaine enabled a reconceptualization of the traditional mimetic relationship between life and literature in Proust's In Search of Lost Time. In fall 2021, she will be co-teaching a survey course on "The Age of Enlightenment" and, in spring 2022, she will teach "French Literature," an introduction to key texts and methods of literary analysis for prospective French concentrators.