Robert St. Clair

Assistant Professor of French

319 Dartmouth Hall
HB 6087
French and Italian
B.A. Knox College
Licence, Université de Paris VII
M.A. Université de Franche-Comté
Ph.D. University of Minnesota

Selected Publications


Poetry, Politics, and the Body in Rimbaud: Lyrical Material (Oxford University Press, forthcoming 2018).

Bodies abound in Rimbaud’s poetry in a way that is nearly unprecedented in the nineteenth-century poetic canon: lazy, creative, rule-breaking bodies, queer bodies, marginalized and impoverished bodies, revolting and revolutionary, historical bodies. The question that this book seeks to answer is: what does this sheer, corporeal density mean for reading Rimbaud? What kind of sense are we to make of this omnipresence of the body in the Rimbaldian corpus from the earliest poems celebrating the simple delight of running away from wherever one is and stretching one’s legs out under a table, to the ultimate flight away from poetry itself? In response, it argues that the body appears – often literally – as a kind of gap, breach, or aperture through which Rimbaud’s poems enter into contact with history and a larger body of other texts. Simply put, the body is privileged “lyrical material” for Rimbaud: a figure for human beings in their exposed, finite creatureliness and in their unpredictable agency and interconnectedness. Its presence in the early work allows us not only to contemplate what a strange, sensuous thing it is to be embodied, to be both singular and part of a collective, it also allows the poet to diagnose, and the reader to perceive, a set of seemingly intractable, “real” socio-economic, political, and symbolic problems. Rimbaud’s bodies are, in other words, utopian bodies: sites where the historical and the lyrical, the ideal and the material, do not so much cancel each other out as become caught up in one another.


"Nature, the City, and Other Lyrical Material: Baudelaire with Rimbaud," Esprit créateur - special issue: Baudelaire and Other People, Maria Scott and Alexandra Wettlaufer, eds. (forthcoming, Spring 2018), 26pp. 

"Dérèglements des sens de l'histoire: poétique et idéologie," Parade sauvage - numéro spécial: herméneutiques rimbaldiennes, Alain Vaillant, dir. (forthcoming, 2018), 22pp.

"Material Inscriptions - Charles Baudelaire and the Poetry of the Modern World," The Wiley-Blackwell Companion to World Literature, vol. 4, 1771-1919 (London: Wiley-Blackwell, forthcoming 2018), 12pp.

"Failure is Our Only Option: Or, Some Thoughts on Reading" - Incipit: Reading (Chambers)Nineteenth-Century French Studies, 45:3-4 (Spring-Summer, 2017), 122-130.

"Introduction: Time for Idleness..." (with Dr. Audrey Evrard, Fordham University), Nottingham French Studies 55:1 (March 2016), 1-4.

“Zut pictura poiesis: Lyric Relations and Legacies in Coin de table and the Sonnet du trou du cul,” in Poets as Readers in Nineteenth-Century France: Critical Reflections, Joseph Acquisto, Adrianna Paliyenko, and Catherine Witt, eds. ( London: IGRS, 2015), 149-168.

“Reframing the Commune: Violence, Intertextuality, and Event in Tardi’s Cri du peuple,” Romance Notes, 55:1 (2015), 147-159.

"Écrire, la main dans la main: de la fleur parodique au communisme littéraire – ‘Le Sonnet du trou du cul’,” Parade sauvage 25 (2015), 69-104. (Highly commended for the Society of Dix-neuviémistes Publication Prize - best journal article by an early career researcher, 2016)

“Misères de la poésie – microlecture des économies de la violence dans Les Yeux des pauvres,” Lectures du Spleen de Paris, Steve Murphy, ed. (Rennes: Presses Universitaires de Rennes, 2014), 307-320.

“Laughing Matter(s): Poetics, Politics, and Ethics of the (Utopian) Body in Rimbaud’s Effarés,”Romanic Review 104.1-2 (2014), 83-104. (Official Commendation, Malcolm Bowie Prize 2014)

“Writing Poetry Against the Grain – or, What Can Be Seen in Les Yeux des pauvres,” French Forum 39.1 (2014), 49-63.

“The Bomb in (and the Right to) the City: Batman, Argo, and Hollywood’s Revolutionary Crowds,” The International Journal of Žižek Studies 7:3 (Oct. 2013).

“Le Désordre du val: réflexions sur la blessure de l’histoire et le temps révolutionnaire dans un sonnet de 1870,” Parade sauvage 23 (2012), 25-45.

“Le Moderne absolu ? Rimbaud et la contre-modernité,” Nineteenth-Century French Studies 40: 3-4 (Spring-Summer 2012), 307-326.

"'Soyons chrétiens!'? Mémoire, anticapitalisme et communauté dans Paris," La poésie jubilatoire: Rimbaud, Verlaine et l'Album zutique, Seth Whidden, ed. (Paris: Classiques Garnier, 2010), 241-260.

"Arthur Rimbaud - poésies, lettres du voyant" - (forthcoming)

“Jules Vallès,” “Gustave Courbet,” "Prosper-O. Lissagaray," “Haussmann/Haussmannisation,” “Coin de table”, in Le Dictionnaire Verlaine, Arnaud Bernadet, ed. (Classiques Garnier, forthcoming 2018).

“Regimes of Art,” in Understanding Rancière, Understanding Modernism, Patrick Bray, ed. (Bloomsbury Press, 2017).

Works in Progress

A book-length study of radical Parnassus and the uses of poetry against oblivion (Writing Poetry Against the Grain: Baudelaire, Verlaine, Rimbaud); the "gift" of poetry, Victor Hugo and poetic politics in a poem by Baudelaire; the prose-poetics of rage, irony and history in a prose poem by Baudelaire; images of "modernity" and the partage du sensible in Marville and Baudelaire's Paris; jealousy and fantasies of domesticity in Les Misérables; anti-disciplinarian poetics in Verlaine's "La soupe du soir".

Co-editor, Parade sauvage (international journal of Rimbaud studies)

Edited Volumes

Nottingham French Studies 55: 1 (March 2016) - co-edited with Dr. Audrey Evrard (Fordham University).

Parade sauvage 26 (Spring, 2016) - co-edited with Denis Saint-Amand.
Parade sauvage 27 (Spring, 2017) - co-edited with Denis Saint-Amand.

Parade sauvage 28 (Spring, 2018) - co-edited with Denis Saint-Amand