Helen Solterer

Helen Solterer

Professor of Romance Studies

External address: 
217B Language Center, Durham, NC 27708
Internal office address: 
Box 90257, Durham, NC 27708-0257
(919) 660-3118
Office Hours: 
Wednesdays, 5-6 pm.& by appt.

My research focuses on early, modern literature and culture in French. I consider fiction in historical action, its first forms in relation to many others, including the contemporary.  

 Timely Fictions, the book I’m writing now, pursues this approach in a series of pictorial essays focused on poetry, drama, narrative.  Each essay cuts “across the grain of time” considering, for example, Villon, with Hugo and Glissant, Christine de Pizan with Edith Thomas, the mystery play with Sartre.  This work has been supported by the Francophone Digital Humanities project, Making Medieval Poetry, funded by a grant from French Cultural Services.  My last book, Medieval Roles for Modern Times, explores a similar approach by investigating early theater and its twentieth-century creation. Un Moyen Âge républicain : paradoxes du théâtre en temps de guerre, its adaptation, was featured at the History Book Festival in Blois, France.

 InTransit: Arts of Migration around Europe is a research group I co-convene bringing together faculty from Romance Studies, Art, Art History and Visual Studies, as well as the Nasher Museum.  Through a series of four installations across campus this fall, 2018, the group offers a historical perspective on migration today in areas of the world where Romance languages are spoken -- Europe, Africa, the Americas.   Work with my students on the case of francophone Northern Europe is part of the exhibit at the Museum

Seminars offered to students at all levels include: Cultural Memory; French Short Fiction; Early, Modern Times – A User’s Manual; Biography, History of Free Speech : Francophonie-USA. Collaboration defines all my teaching: multi-lingual critics, writers, and artists of all stripes contribute to these classes.

Off campus, I’m also at work on a book of another style: a literary biography and family narrative set in Dublin-Paris.



  • Ph.D., University of Toronto (Canada) 1986

Solterer, H. Timely Fictions, 2017.

Solterer, H. Un Moyen Âge républicain : paradoxes du théâtre en temps de guerre. Translated by M. Chénetier Alev. Presses universitaires Paris-Sorbonne, 2014.

Solterer, H. Medieval Roles in Modern Times: Theater and the Battle for the French Republic. The Pennsylvania State University Press, 2010.

Solterer, H. The Master and Minerva: Disputing Women in French Medieval Culture. University of California Press, 1995.

Solterer, H. “Another Land's End of Literature.” In Founding Feminisms in Medieval Studies Essays in Honor of E. Jane Burns, 153–68. Boydell & Brewer, 2016.

"Another Land’s End of Literature”.” In Founding Feminisms in Medieval Studies, 153–68. Suffolk: Boydell & Brewer, 2016.

Solterer, H. “"Aimer un pays tout autre: Christine de Pizan, Alain Chartier, & Compagnie”.” In Sens, Rhétorique, et Musique : Études Réunies En Hommage à Jacqueline Cerquiglini-Toulet, edited by S. Lefèvre, C. Lucken, and E. Doudet, 769–82. Champion, 2015.

Solterer, H., and Véronique Dominguez. “Réactivations scéniques.” In Le Théâtre Du XIIe Au XIIe Siècles, edited by Olivier Halévy, Gabriella Parussa, and Darwin Smith. L’Avant-Scène, 2014.

Solterer, H. “Parcours d’un militant de théâtre: Moussa Abadi.” In Le Texte Critique : Expérimenter Le Théâtre et Le Cinéma Aux XXe et XXIe Siècles, edited by Valérie Vignaux et Marion Chénetier Alev, 207-220. Presses universitaires François-Rabelais, 2013.

Solterer, H. ““Jouer le Moyen Âge: Gustave Cohen et la troupe théophilienne,”.” In Les Pères Des Études Médiévales: Examen Critique de La Constitution d’un Savoir Académique, edited by Marie Bouhaïk-Gironès, Véronique Dominguez, and Jelle Koopmans, 255-281[8figures]. Presses universitaires de Rennes, 2010.

Solterer, H. “Theatre and Theatricality.” In The Cambridge Companion to Medieval French Literature, 181–94. Cambridge University Press, 2008.

Solterer, H. “Making Names, Breaking Lives: Women & Injurious Language.” In Cultural Performances in Medieval France: Essays in Honor of Nancy Freeman, edited by Eglal Doss-Quinby, Robert Krueger, and E Jane Burns, 207–21. Boydell & Brewer, 2007.

Solterer, H. “Gustave Cohen at Pont-Holyoke : The Drama of Belonging to France.” In Artists, Intellectuals and World War II, edited by C. Benfey and K. Remmler, 145–61. University of Massachusetts Press, 2006.

Solterer, Helen. “Defense of Women.” In Women and Gender in Medieval Europe, edited by Susan Stuard, Margaret Schaus, and Thomas Izbicki, 64–68. Routledge, 2005.


Solterer, H. ““Strange or Elegant or Foul Matter,”.” Exemplaria, 25 (2013), 2013, 79–92.

Solterer, H. “review of Carol Symes, "A Common Stage:Theater and Public Life in Medieval Arras.” Theatre Survey 51 (2010): 135–37.

Solterer, H. “Fiction versus defamation: The quarrel over the tomance of the rose.” Medieval History Journal 2, no. 1 (December 1, 1999): 111–41. https://doi.org/10.1177/097194589900200106. Full Text

Solterer, H. “Performing pasts: A dialogue with Paul Zumthor.” Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies 27, no. 3 (1997): 595–640.

Solterer, H. “The Waking of Medieval Theatricality, Paris 1935-1995.” New Literary History 27 (1996): 257–90.

Solterer, H. “The Waking of Medieval Theatricality: Paris 1935-1995.” New Literary History 27, no. 3 (1996): 357–90. https://doi.org/10.1353/nlh.1996.0041. Full Text

SOLTERER, H. “Seeing, Hearing, Tasting Woman : The Senses of Medieval Reading.” Comparative Literature 46, no. 2 (1994): 129–45. https://doi.org/10.2307/1771574. Full Text

SOLTERER, H. “Dismembering, Remembering the Châtelain de Couci.” Romance Philology 46, no. 2 (November 1992): 103–24.


Solterer, H., and J. Delabroy. “Teaching Abroad With Obama.” Insidehighered.Com, 2008.

Solterer, H. “Teaching Free Speech in Times of War.” Insiderhighered.Com, September 2007.