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Jessica Tanner

Jessica Tanner

Associate Professor
Graduate Advisor for French
Graduate Advisor French
Dey Hall 142

Students Advised
Wendy Combs
Accepting graduate students 


Ph.D., Harvard University, 2013

MA, Harvard University, 2005

BA, Harvard University, 2001

About Professor Tanner

I work on French literature, culture, and thought of the long 19th century and critical theory, with interests in the novel; the environmental humanities; Naturalism; space, place, and mapping; cultural genealogies of sex, sexuality, and gender; biopolitics; literary politics; and how we read today. I also convene the Carolina Seminar on The Anthropocene, the Humanities, and the Social Sciences.

My first book, Mapping Prostitution: Sex, Space, and the Novel in 19th-Century Paris, supported by a 2016 IAH Faculty Fellowship, is currently under revision, and I am now working on a second book project, Weathering Modernity: The Novel Climates of Nineteenth-Century France, which builds a case for reading 19th-century French novels today as climate fictions that train us to interpret and weather the climate we have made. I was invited to present early research for this book at the 2016-17 Futures of French series of talks at La Maison Française at NYU.

I am also coediting a special issue of Nottingham French Studies with Hélène Sicard-Cowan on “émile Zola and Science.” My research has appeared in Nineteenth-Century French Studies, L’Esprit créateur, and a volume on biopolitics and the TV series Orphan Black; forthcoming work for NCFS and Dix-Neuf focuses on climate in Zola and Maupassant. I received the 2015 Lawrence R. Schehr Memorial Award for best junior faculty essay and the 2011 Naomi Schor Memorial Award for best graduate student essay at the Nineteenth-Century French Studies Colloquium for essays related to my first book.

Publications, Articles, & Presentations


Mapping Prostitution: Sex, Space, and the Novel in Nineteenth-Century Paris (book; under revision)

Weathering Modernity: The Novel Climates of Nineteenth-Century France (book; in progress)

Articles and chapters

“Being Together: Immunity and Community in Orphan Black.” Orphan Black: Performance, Gender, Biopolitics. Eds. Andrea Goulet and Robert Rushing. Bristol, UK: Intellect Books, 2018.

“The Climate of Naturalism: Zola’s Atmospheres.” L’Esprit Créateur 57.1 (Spring 2017): 20-33. Spec. Issue: “French Ecocriticism/L’Écocritique française.” Eds. Daniel Finch-Race and Julien Weber.

“Speculative Capital: Zola’s Repossession of Paris.” L’Esprit Créateur 55.3 (Fall 2015): 114-126. Spec. Issue: “Paris, Imagined Capital: Economic Transition and Modernity (17th to 19th Centuries).” Eds. Andrew Billing and Juliette Cherbuliez.

“Turning Tricks, Turning the Tables: Plotting the Brasserie à femmes in Tabarant’s Virus d’amour.” Nineteenth-Century French Studies 41.3-4 (Spring-Summer 2013): 255-271.

Forthcoming and in-progress articles:

“Zola’s Dirt: Climate, Territory, and the Scandal of Fin-de-siècle Naturalism.” Dix-Neuf 23.2 (Spring 2019).

“Climate Control: Place and Provincial Capital in Maupassant’s Mont-Oriol.” Dix-Neuf 23.4 (December 2019). Spec. Issue: “Ecoregions.” Eds. Daniel Finch-Race and Valentina Gosetti.

“Bad Feminism and the Politics of Reading.” Incipit dialogue on gender and sexuality in nineteenth-century French studies. Nineteenth-Century French Studies (2019-20).

“Paris, Capital of the Capitalocene: The Commune as Climate Crisis.” Nineteenth-Century French Studies (May 2021). Spec. Issue: “La Commune n’est pas morte.” Eds. Robert St. Clair and Seth Whidden.

“Zola: The Aesthetics and Anesthetics of Vice” (under review)

Awards & Honors

UNC Institute for the Arts and Humanities Schwab Academic Excellence Award. 2017.

UNC Institute for the Arts and Humanities Faculty Fellowship (IAH Legacy Fellow). Spring 2016.

UNC Junior Faculty Development Award. 2015.

Lawrence R. Schehr Memorial Award (for best junior faculty essay), Nineteenth-Century French Studies Colloquium, November 2015 (for “Branding Naturalism: The Ecology of Vice in Zola”).

Naomi Schor Memorial Award (for best graduate essay), Nineteenth-Century French Studies Colloquium, October 2011 (for “An Unhomely Home: Naturalist Nostalgia and the Maison de tolérance”)

Typical Courses

FREN 285: Sex, Philosophy, and Politics: Revolutionary Literature in Translation

FREN 286: Food for Thought: The Culture of Cuisine in Modern France

FREN 331: French Civilization II

FREN 390: Cultures of Resistance

FREN 489: 19th-Century Literature and Culture (topic: "Sex, Modernity, and Novel Prostitution")

FREN 490: The Climate of Modernity: Literary Ecologies of the Anthropocene

FREN 515: Social Networks: Technology and Sociability in Modern Fran