Melanie Conroy received her PhD in French from Stanford in 2012. Her main interests are nineteenth-century French literature, modern European socialand intellectual history, French cultural studies, and social networks as they pertain to literary and cultural production. Her dissertation examines the discourse of nobility in nineteenth-century French fiction and popular culture. Over the years, she has taught composition and rhetoric, French language, French and world literature, French film, and philosophy and literature. She also holds an MA in comparative literature from SUNY Buffalo and an MA in French literature from the University of Paris VIII.

Research and Teaching Interests

French language and literature; nineteenth- and twentieth-century French and European cultural history; modern intellectual history and political philosophy; the realist and late-Romantic novel; realist cinema (Renoir, Truffaut, Chabrol); theory of novel and narratology; popular theater and the vaudevilles; elite sociability; women’s history and literature; literature and finance; social networks and digital humanities.




Thinking Matters Program, Stanford University, 2012-present. 

Courses: Education as Self Fashioning: Learning for Public Life; The Poet Remaking the World; Networks: Ecological, Revolutionary, Digital.

Lab Manager, Humanities + Design, CESTA, Stanford University, 2012-present.



2012: Ph.D. in French, Stanford University

Dissertation: “The Afterlife of the Aristocracy: Nobility in French Literature from Balzac to Proust.” Committee: Joshua Landy (chair), Dan Edelstein, Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht, Laura Wittman. 

2006: M.A. in French Literature, University of Paris VIII

MA Thesis: "Le cercle vicieux: sur Le Baphomet de Pierre Klossowski," advisor: Jean-Michel Rey, program: texte, imaginaire, société

2005: M.A. in Comparative Literature, SUNY Buffalo

2000: B.A. in English Literature (Honors) and Creative Writing, University of Alberta



Articles and Book Reviews

"Before the ‘Inward Turn’: Tracking Direct and Indirect Thought in the French Realist Novel," forthcoming in Poetics Today.

 “Comment se vendre: L’escroquerie et le marketing dans ‘La vie publique et privée de mossieu Réac’ de Nadar," forthcoming in Médias 19.

Spontaneity and Moral Certainty in Benjamin Constant’s Adolphe," Nineteenth-Century French Studies, 40.3-4.

Review of Femmes poètes du XIXe siècle: Une anthologie. Ed. Christine Planté. Nineteenth-Century French Studies, 39.3.


Book Manuscript

The New Aristocrats, 1830-1914

My first book tracks the reconsideration of the French aristocracy in nineteenth- and early twentieth-century fiction, examining shifts in representation to show how and why nobility remained a persistent fantasy. Analyzing an array of popular and canonical texts, including works by Scribe, Balzac, Delphine de Girardin, Jules Sandeau and Hugo, as well as popular theater, satires, caricature, and aristocratic memoirs, I argue that literature was an ideal medium for sorting through the elements of this fantasy, and thatnobility outlived the aristocracy because it was a utopian discourse of perfectibility, rather than a reactionary project.