Célia Abele

Cotsen Postdoctoral Fellow in the Society of Fellows
Lecturer in the Council of the Humanities and French and Italian
2020-2023 Cohort

Célia Abele is a comparatist working at the boundaries of literature and history. She 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 concentrates on 18th- through 20th-century Europe, especially its French- and German-speaking regions, with particular focus on the intersections between literature and science. History of science, intellectual history, and the study of material and visual culture provide important methodologies for her work.

She is writing her first book, with the title "From Feuilles to Fossils: Documents of Self and World." It concerns the documentary and research practices of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Georg Lichtenberg, Alexander von Humboldt, Emile Zola, Walter Benjamin, and W.G. Sebald, arguing that they constitute 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 has been supported by a Mellon International Humanities Travel Grant and the ACLS/Mellon Dissertation Completion Fellowship.

Her publications have appeared in Nineteenth-Century French StudiesEighteenth-Century Studies, and Romanic Review. Other articles in progress or under review concern the representation of chemistry in Diderot and d'Alembert's Encyclopédie, Zola's “sedimentary” practices of documentation for The Belly of Paris, 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 spring 2023, she will be teaching the freshman seminar "Civilization and its Narratives."