Göran Blix

Department Chair
Office Phone
323 East Pyne


Göran Blix studies the tradition of nineteenth-century French prose writing in the context of major historical and political developments. His interests include romanticism, realism, literary aesthetics, the historical imagination, politics and the novel, ecocriticism and animal studies. He has published articles on Balzac, Hugo, Michelet, Flaubert, Tocqueville, the Goncourt brothers, and Zola, among others, and his book on romantic historicism, From Paris to Pompeii: French Romanticism and the Cultural Politics of Archeology (2008), examines the impact of the nascent science of archeology on modern secular attitudes to death, memory, and immortality. He earned a B.A. in Literature from Harvard College (1996), a DEA from the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (1998), and a Ph.D. in French from Columbia University (2003). He joined the Department of French and Italian at Princeton University in 2003.      

Current Projects

Göran Blix is currently completing a book on the fraught relationship between literature and democratization in nineteenth-century France. Entitled The Heroism of Modern Life, it examines the advent of equality by looking at changes in the modern conception of the heroic in works by Constant, Staël, Balzac, Hugo, Baudelaire, and Michelet; the simultaneous need to abolish heroism, yet continue to exploit its affective resources, led progressive writers to redefine courage and transfer this label (once reserved for martial figures) to humble, obscure, and female characters. He is also juggling three other book projects rooted in the environmental humanities: the first, Ecoapathy and Biophilia: On the “End of Nature” and “le sentiment de la nature” offers a critical genealogy of “le sentiment de la nature” from Rousseau to the anarchist geographer Élisée Reclus, and seeks to rehabilitate an affective, pre-conceptual understanding of humanity’s embeddedness in nature that sidesteps the dead-end metaphysical debates around dualism, monism, the new materialism, hybridism, and the alleged “end of nature.”  In Thinking With Animals: Posthuman Fables in the Age of Darwin, I use a multispecies framework to ask what authors (such as Michelet, Flaubert, Sand, Balzac, Hugo, Zola, and Leconte de Lisle) have learned from animals after acknowledging the limits of human exceptionalism (some articles forming the core of this project have already appeared: on Balzac, Flaubert, Leconte de Lisle, and Instinct-Intelligence dualism; see: https://princeton.academia.edu/GoranBlix). Lastly, in Coal Culture and Fossil Fiction: Landscape Ecology in the Late Nineteenth Century, I aim to do for coal culture what recent studies have done for petroculture and petrofiction, documenting and analyzing the engagement of French and English writers with the transformative impact of coal on work, health, social relations, and landscape (cases include Zola, Malot, Engels, Jevons, Maupassant, Sévérine, Orwell, and Sinclair).

Teaching Interests

Göran Blix has taught undergraduate courses on topics such as animals, global environmental disaster, the nineteenth-century novel, memory and modernity, imagined communities, and socially marginal figures, as well as graduate courses devoted to nineteenth-century historicism, romanticism, democracy and heroism, nature writing, and the representation of the people.