Anne N Mairesse

Anne Mairesse

Faculty Emeritus


Anne Mairesse is originally from France. She grew up in the infamous suburb of Paris called Sarcelles, until her family finally “made” it to Paris when she was a teenager. With a lot of catching up to do, she embraced the culture and the arts and all that Paris could hold, while developing an acute sense of social and political consciousness, which served as a frequent reminder of the background that instructed her most. She had a passion for old and new avant-garde films, and spent a lot of time at the Cinémathèque, like a home away from home, a place where she entered French intellectual circles, which led her to the discipline of Academia.

While studying for her Master’s at the University of Paris, she also worked at the Pompidou Center, and decided to leave her "very desirable job" to pursue a doctoral degree.  Instead, she applied for a grant from the French government of foreign affairs to study abroad, and was admitted to Columbia University. She moved to New York, fell in love with the city, and the United States became her permanent home!

While a Preceptor in the French Department at Columbia University for five years, Anne Mairesse went on to earn her doctoral degree in French and Comparative Literature. She joined USF as an Assistant Professor in 1992. In 2001, Professor Mairesse earned her H.D.R. in Letters and Human Sciences (Habilitation à diriger la recherche en Lettres et Sciences Humaines) a post-doctoral degree based on research and publications.

Professor Mairesse’s literary research has focused on the work and legacy of French poet Paul Valéry with a strong emphasis on his Notebooks, as means to investigate a unique form of writing and a thought process that instructs, through a vast array of disciplines and subject matters, the central question linked to the working of the human mind, its modes of creativity, its potential, and its limits. Her book, Figures de Valéry, was published by L’Harmattan in 2000.

However, rather than researching the mind of a dead poet and deciphering his complex writings, Dr. Mairesse quickly recognized that since her primary job was in the classroom, she could instead apply her research skills to educate the minds of students. She also realized that students’ writings could, at times, and for a variety of reasons, be just as challenging and complex, but in dialog, far more gratifying!

Professor Mairesse’s teaching philosophy is based on reciprocal and exchangeable positions, from teaching to learning, from learning to teaching, which engages both the learner and teacher on equal terms, with similar responsibilities including that of understanding a culture, literature, art and film from someone else’s standpoint as well as one’s own.

Professor Mairesse’s research interest with a cross-disciplinary focus on linguistic, philosophical, psychological and social issues was the impulse for creating the program in Comparative Literature and Culture at USF. However small, it has grown steadily over the years and is home to the creative and independent minds of students who enjoy literature, are interested in the intellectual challenge of analyzing texts, and want to become better readers and writers of the world they will contribute to shape.

The CMPL program at USF is a very flexible program allowing students to design their own curriculum. The CMPL program at USF is the only Comparative Literature and Culture program in all of the Jesuit Universities in the United States.

While developing the CMPL program and its curriculum addressing diverse and sometimes sensitive issues encountered in courses such as “Cultures in Conflict,” or “Literatures of the Body,” Professor Mairesse pursued her research about the human-animal relation, and created two seminars about the representations of animals in literature.

As a result, when Professor Mairesse enjoys the company of her cat, she is aware that it stems from an œdipal complex, (philosophers Deleuze and Guattari said so), therefore, she loves him knowingly. When not in the classroom or at her desk, she enjoys other challenges like a good tennis game that defies all thinking process.

Research Areas

  • Animal Writing
  • French Poetry and Prose of the 19th-20th Century
  • Contemporary Fiction


  • Director, Comparative Literature and Culture Program (CMPL)


  • Graduate Student, Columbia University, New York, 1981-85
  • Doctorate, French and Comparative Literature of 20th Century, University of Paris, France, 1985
  • HDR in Letters and Sciences, University of Paris, France, 2001

Awards & Distinctions

  • Professor Mairesse co-organized with Anne Simon (EHESS, CNRS) the annual 20th-21st Century French and Francophone Studies International Colloquium entitled “Human-Animal / Humain-Animal” (San Francisco, 2011) which gathered approximately 320 scholars from all over the world. 
  • Professor Mairesse is co-Founder and President of the International Prize “Recherche au Présent” awarded annually for best paper submitted by a doctoral student at the 20th-21st Century French and Francophone Studies International Colloquium. 

  • The Franco-American Prize “Recherche au Présent” which promotes research in French and francophone studies is co-sponsored by EHESS, SELF XX‐XXI, Georgetown University and the University of San Francisco.

Selected Publications

  • “Human-Animal / Humain-Animal”, Guest editor, Contemporary French and Francophone Studies, SITES, Routledge, Volume 16:4, September 2012

  • « Face aux Bêtes / Facing the animal », L'Esprit Créateur, co-ed with Anne Simon, The Johns Hopkins University Press, Vol. 51 No.4, Winter 2011.

  • “Return to Monsieur Teste?, or ‘What is a man capable of’”: Valéry, Anthropologist of Modernity,” Modern Language Notes, n.117 December 2002, © Johns Hopkins University: 1003-1027

  • Figures de Valéry, Paris, L’Harmattan, (2000): 320.

Selected Articles on Women Writing

  • La Traversée du genre: Le héros-narrateur chez les romancières contemporaines,” Nomadismes des romancières contemporaines de langue française, Audrey Lasserre et Anne Simon eds, Paris, Presses Sorbonne nouvelle, (2008): 93-102
  • Ryoko Sekiguchi, au « marché » de l’échange poétique », L’exception et la France contemporaine : Histoire, Imaginaire, Littérature, Marc Dambre, Richard Golsan, Ed., Paris, Presses Sorbonne Nouvelle (2010): 193-202 ISBN 978-2-87854-46701
  • Le Roman Spectaculaire : l’œuvre de Véronique Olmi », SITES, The Journal of 20th Century Contemporary French Studies, Routledge, (Vol. 10, No. 4, December 2006): 491-498.
  • “An Interview with Nathalie Quintane: Internet Surfers’ Words” in L’Hybridité de la Poésie, SITES, The Journal of 20th-Century/Contemporary French Studies, n.7.1: 181-9, 2003.
  • “Lydie Salvayre: From Beyond A Woman’s Memory,” SITES, The Journal of 20th-Century/Contemporary French Studies, 3.2 (1999): 369-73.

Publications on Paul Valéry

  • Paul Valéry, les philosophes, la philosophie », Etudes Valéryennes, L’Harmattan, Vol. 96-97, Mars-Juin 2004.
  • Book Review: “Valéry’s Notebooks,” Vol 1 & 2, The Romanic Review, Vol. 95, n.4 (November 2004).
  • “Valéry et le dessin: Hors-texte la poésie se dessine,” The Romanic Review Vol. 95, n.4 (November 2004).
  • “La Revue du Centaure: Textes et contextes d’une œuvre esthétique et littéraire.” © Nineteenth Century French Studies, n.32, vol. 1-2, 2003-04: 104-120.
  • “Re-figurer la généalogie: Teste and Co.” in Recyclage Culturel / Recycling Culture: Proceedings of XXIst Century French Studies Conference, UC-Davis. © L’Harmattan, 2003.
  • “Entre Gide et Valéry, la littérature va-t-elle de soi?” in “Gide-Valéry,” Frederic Canovas ed., Études valéryennes, © L’Harmattan, 95, 2003.
  • “Return to Monsieur Teste?, or ‘What is a man capable of’: Valéry, Anthropologist of Modernity,” Modern Language Notes, n.117 December 2002, © Johns Hopkins University: 1003-1027
  • “Faute de poétique une théorie de l’Etat,” in Paul Valéry « Regards sur l’Histoire, Robert Pickering ed., Presses Universitaires Blaise-Pascal, Clermont-Ferrand, (2008) : 200-211
  • “Synopsis de Figures de Valéry” in Valéry, ‘en Somme’: Actes du Colloque International de Sète, May 2000. Etudes Valéryennes, 88-89, © L’Harmattan, (2001): 71-86
  • Figures de Valéry, Paris, L’Harmattan, (2000): 320.
  • “Valéry / Mallarmé.. Points suspensifs, etc.” Mallarmé, Valéry: Actes du Colloque International de Montpellier, May 1998, Etudes Valéryennes, 81/82 (1999): 81-91.
  • Mallarmé / Valéry: Poétiques, co-ed with Serge Bourjea, Études Valéryennes, Vol. 78 (1998): 86.