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Ellen Welch

Ellen Welch

Department Chair
Dey Hall 143

Accepting graduate students 


Ph.D, University of Pennsylvania, 2008

MA, University of Pennsylvania, 2003

BA, Brown University, 2000

About Professor Welch

Professor Welch’s research and teaching focus on French literature and culture of the Ancien Régime, including theater and performing arts (especially musical theater and dance), prose fiction, travel literature, and journalism. Much of her work has explored the relationship between literature and France’s global engagements through translation, travel, imperialism, and diplomacy during this dynamic period of cultural history. Her first book, A Taste for the Foreign: Worldly Knowledge and Literary Pleasure in Early Modern French Fiction , examined how the exotic became a crucial aesthetic category for the early French novel, from Rabelais’s Quart livre to Galland’s Mille et une nuits. Her most recent book, A Theater of Diplomacy: International Relations and the Performing Arts in Early Modern France (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2017) investigates how multimedia theatrical entertainments (particularly ballet) mediated France’s diplomatic relationships within and beyond Europe from 1565 to 1715. This project received support from an ACLS Ryskamp Fellowship and a National Humanities Center Fellowship. Trained as a comparatist, Professor Welch has also published on literary relations between France and Spain (particularly French responses to Cervantes).

Professor Welch’s current research explores the figure of “noise” in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century literature. This project draws on media studies and acoustics to examine how authors from Corneille to Diderot attended to the chatter, babble, murmurs, and rumors swirling around them during a period of social and political upheaval.

Promoting scholarly collaboration and exchange is another important aspect of Professor Welch’s work. She is a co-convener of the Triangle French History and Culture Seminar.

Publications, Articles, & Presentations

"Théophile de Viau and the Poetics of Noise Control under Louis XIII." French Studies 76.2 (2022): pp. 175-92.

“In the French Style: Fashion, Flair, and Diplomacy in the Embassy Letters of Marie Gigault de Bellefons, marquise de Villars.” How to Do Things with Style: Essays in Honor of Joan DeJean. Eds. Roland Racevskis and Amy Wyngaard. French Review Book Series. Marion, IL: AATF, 2021. 47-68.

“Ancient Stories, Modern Audiences: Neoclassical Drama in Multicultural France.” MLA Options for Teaching French Neoclassical Tragedy. Eds. Hélène Bilis and Ellen McClure. New York, MLA, 2021. 201-14.

The Confusion of Diverse Voices: Musical and Social Polyphony in Seventeenth-Century French Opera,Renaissance Quarterly 73 (Summer 2020): 567-94.

Diderot’s Theatrical Acoustics.Eighteenth-Century Studies 51.4 (2018): 437-52.

Fictions of the Courtly Self: French Ballet in the Age of Louis XIV.Early Modern French Studies 39.1 (2017): 17-30.

La critique des spectacles par les diplomates au XVIIe siècle.Littératures Classiques. Spec. issue: “Naissance de la critique dramatique.” Eds. Claude Bourqui and Lise Michel. 89 (2016) : 103-114.

Cervantes and the Domestication of Romance in Seventeenth-Century French Theater: Jean Rotrou’s Les deux pucelles, tragi-comédie.” In “Cervantes on the European Stage,” forum edited by Barbara Fuchs. Republics of Letters 4.2 (2015): 1-15.

Intermédiaires culturels/Cultural Intermediaries. Études Internationales sur le Dix-Huitième Series. Co-editor with Vanessa Alayrac-Fielding. Paris: Honoré-Champion, 2015. Chapter: “Intermediaries and the Media: Diplomacy in the Early Eighteenth-Century French Periodical Press

Risking Life and Limb: Commerce and the Value of Life in Caribbean Adventure Narratives.Cahiers du Dix-Septième 15.2. Spec. Issue: “Life.” Eds. Holly Tucker and Jérôme Brillaud. (2014): 121-39.

State Truths, Private Letters, and Images of Public Opinion in the Ancien Régime: Sévigné on Trials.French Studies: A Quarterly Review 67.2 (April 2013): 170-83.

From Aesthetic to Ethical Cosmopolitanism in Scudéry’s Le Grand Cyrus.Cahiers du Dix-Septième 14 (2012): 38-55.

Performing a New France, Making Colonial History in Marc Lescarbot’s Théâtre de Neptune (1606).Modern Language Quarterly 72.4 (December 2011): 439-60.

Awards & Honors

ACLS Charles A. Ryskamp Fellowship

Research Triangle Foundation Fellowship – National Humanities Center


Diana Garcia, "Oeil, voyeur et écriture: Poétique visuelle et expérimentation dans la littérature du XVIIIe siècle"

Andrew Gard, "The Rise of the Coquette in Seventeenth-Century French Theater"

Catherine Viano, "Theater of Machines, Theater as Machine in Seventeenth-Century France"

Amanda Moehlenpah, “Performing Englishness, Performing France: The Contredanse and the Choreography of Identity in Eighteenth-Century France”

Typical Courses

Professor Welch offers rotating-topic graduate seminars on Ancien Régime French literature and culture. Recent topics have included “Les arts du corps,” “Le théâtre et ses publics,” and “News, Media, and Culture in 17th-Century France” (co-taught with Duke University Professor Michèle Longino). Undergraduate offerings include FREN 315 (Imposteur!: Faking and False Identities in French and Francophone Drama and Film), FREN 387 (Paris/Versailles: La cour et la ville) and FREN 280 (French “Discoveries” of the Americas), and a First-Year Seminar “La mode: Fashion in French Culture."