Group Spotlight: Early Modern French Studies Reading Group

A private (but open) Commons reading group whose members discuss pedagogy, performance, and philosophy in early modern France. Interested in taking part? Read on...

Ever wished you knew someone whose idea of breakfast banter included pedagogy, philosophy, performance, and early modern France? Cue the Early Modern French Studies Reading Group, founded by members Anna Rosensweig and Joy Palacios. They began the group as graduate students in 2012, and while its activities slowed down when they both began new jobs, this semester sees its resurrection as a hub for “brainstorming creative ways to teach French philosophical texts using performance.”

Conversation takes place on a private site connected to the Early Modern French Studies Reading Group, where participants weigh in on questions and a reading shared in advance in what the organizers call a “flexible and conversational” format. This month, say Rosensweig and Palacios, the goal is “exploring the pedagogical possibilities offered by the overlap between performance and philosophy,” with conversation stemming from the shared reading of Laura Cull’s article “Performance Philosophy: Staging a New Field.” The founders encourage members to share their reactions on the site during the last week of October but welcome participation outside that time period—one of their reasons for using the Commons, after all, was to allow anyone interested to participate on their own time and in their own time zones.

Next semester, Palacios and Rosensweig plan to invite participants to design a performance-oriented assignment for a philosophical text they use in their teaching. “We hope the project will equip participants with fresh ideas for the classroom,” they enthuse, “while also giving us the chance to enjoy discussions with each other along the way.”

The group and the blog are both private so that members can feel comfortable sharing still-nascent ideas, but they are open to anyone interested in the subject matter. To join, go to (make sure you have logged into the Commons first) and click Request Membership.


Anna Rosensweig is a Provost’s Postdoctoral Scholar in the Department of French and Italian at the University of Southern California. Her research interests include early modern literature and culture, performance studies, and the intersections of literature and political theory.

Joy Palacios

Joy Palacios is an assistant professor of literature in the Department of French at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia. Her research investigates seventeenth- and eighteenth-century religious practice through the lens of performance, with special attention to tensions between the church and the theater.

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