At the intersection of several contemporary critical streams, Stephanie Posthumus’s research focuses on the representations of the non-human, or more-than-human, in contemporary French literature.
Constructing an ecological perspective for examining 20th and 21st Century French literary texts has been the main goal of her work since she finished her doctoral thesis in 2003. As she has argued in several articles, ecocriticism, while based on a concern for global environmental problems, is not transferable from one national literature to another. The traditions, philosophies and representations of the non-human world that influence and are influenced by literature create important cultural differences that do not allow for a global ecocritical perspective. Working to develop a French ecocriticism, she draws on ideas such as l’esthétique environnementale (Nathalie Blanc), la nature-culture (Bruno Latour) and le contrat naturel (Michel Serres). Her recent articles demonstrate a move from this theoretical foundation to its possible application in the analysis of landscapes in contemporary French literary texts (see her articles on Jean-Christophe Rufin, Michel Houellebecq, Marie Darrieussecq and Michel Tournier). Her work in this field was recently acknowledged as being both original and important when she was awarded the prize for the best article published in 2009 by a member of the APFUCC (Association des professeurs de français aux universités et collèges canadiens).
A second branch of her work looks at representations of animals in contemporary French literature. Whereas ecocriticism remains on the periphery of French literary studies, the animal question has garnered much critical attention. Researching different disciplinary work on animals, from philosophy (Derrida, de Fontenay, Lestel) to ethology (Cyrulnik, Chapouthier), from literary criticism (Desblache, Simon) to animal ethics (Vilmer), Prof. Posthumus aims to define the animal question with respect to the French contemporary context. At the same time, she is interested in comparing this context to that of other European countries as the European Union has become an important ruling body for establishing laws about animal well-being and rights in Europe. The relationships between local, regional, cultural differences in a global landscape are at the heart of Dr. Posthumus’s work on ecocriticism and animal studies.
Posthumus, Stephanie. “Penser l’imagination environnementale française sous le signe de la difference, Raison publique.” 17 (2012): 15-21.
“Writing the Land/scape : Maie Darrieussecq’s Le Pays.” French Literary Studies: The Environment in French and Francophone Literature and Film, 30 (2012): 103-117.
“Parcours météorologique, conscience climatique chez Michel Serres et Michel Tournier.” La Pluie et le beau temps. Discours scientifiques et transformations littéraires, du Moyen Age à l’époque moderne. Ed. Karin Becker. Paris: Herman, 2012. 379-98.
“Vers une écocritique française: le contrat naturel de Michel Serres.” Mosaic, a journal for the interdisciplinary study of literature. 44.2 (2011): 85-100.
Posthumus, Stephanie and Stéfan Sinclair. “L’inscription de la nature et de la technologie dans La possibilité d’une île de Michel Houellebecq.” Sites: Contemporary French & Francophone Studies. 15.3 (2011): 349-356.
Book Review. Posthumus, Stephanie. Every Living Being: Representations of Nonhuman Animals in the Exploration of Human Well-Being. Marie-France Boissonneault. The Goose. 9 (2011): 35-36.
“État des lieux de la pensée écocritique française.” Eco-zone. European Journal of Literature, Culture, Environment. 1.1 (2010): 148-154.
La nature et l’écologie chez Claude Lévi-Strauss, Michel Serres, Michel Tournier. Étude de modèles structuralistes et écologistes chez trois penseurs français. Sarrebruck: Éditions universitaires européennes, 2010.
“‘Deux truites frémissant flanc à flanc’ : le structuralisme et l’écologisme chez Michel Tournier.” Dalhousie French Studies. 85 (2009): 167-82.
“L’exception écologiste francaise : Globalia de Jean-Christophe Rufin.” Sites: Contemporary French & Francophone Studies. 12.4 (2008): 445-453.
“Framing French Eco-Difference: A Brief Overview.” Re-public: Re-Imagining Democracy. Special Issue: From climate change to environmental justice? (2008) http://www.re-public.gr/en/?p=415
“Translating Ecocriticism: Dialoguing with Michel Serres.” Reconstruction: Studies in Contemporary Culture. Special Issue: Eco-Cultures: Culture Studies and the Environment. 7.2 (2007). http://reconstruction.eserver.org/072/contents072.shtml
“Écocritique/Ecocriticism.” Dictionnaire International des Termes Littéraires / International Dictionary of Literary Terms (DITL). Éd. Jean-Marie Grassin. Limoges: Vita Nova, http://www.ditl.info, 2006.