Expertise: French and Italian

Research areas:

  • Renaissance literature
  • Humanism
  • Rhetoric

My current project, which I’m calling Odious Praise, deals with the rhetorical exercise of praising what others blame, including the praise of superstition and religious dissimulation, which are generally held in opprobrium. The reversal of values inherent in odious praise stimulated some of the first serious attempts at social science, including a social science of religion and politics, in such Renaissance thinkers as Machiavelli, Bodin, and Montaigne.


  • France
  • Renaissance
European Studies, Italian, French
PhD, Princeton University, Comparative Literature, 1988
BA, University of California, Berkeley, Comparative Literature, 1983
europe, western france literary criticism renaissance history french language or literature italian language or literature