matilda bruckner, professor of french
A.B., Bryn Mawr College
M.Phil. and Ph.D., Yale University
How long have you been at Boston College?
I came to Boston College in 1983 as an assistant professor after teaching for eight years at Princeton University.
What courses do you teach?
- Memory and Literature (RL 357)
(Note: This course was featured in the Summer 2010 edition of Boston College Magazine)
- Explications de Texte (RL 704)
- Performing the Middle Ages (RL 420)
- Violence: Medieval French Responses (RL 413)
What are your research interests?
I work primarily (though not exclusively) on French romances from the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, as well as troubadour lyric, especially songs by women troubadours. Most recently, I published a book on the first Grail romance, Chrétien Continued: A Study of the Conte du Graal and its Verse Continuations (Oxford UP), and since then have been pursuing projects in a variety of areas. I have been particularly interested in the role of animals in the medieval imagination since I co-curated an exhibit at Boston College in 2005 on Secular/Sacred intersections. This has continued to draw my attention to the way we explore our identity through the animal/human connection. I've been studying the issue in works by two twelfth-century authors, Marie de France and Chrétien de Troyes. The latter is the target of my current project, "Knight, Lady, Dragon, Lion: Criss-crossing Identities in Chrétien de Troyes's Chevalier au Lion," which will appear as an article in a collective volume, Stones, Worms, and Skin: Gender and Embodiment in Medieval Europe, ed. E. Jane Burns and Peggy McCracken (University of Notre Dame Press).
What do you like about teaching at Boston College?
I have particularly enjoyed teaching a wide variety of introductory level literature courses – introductions to narrative, poetry and drama, and masterpieces of French literature. The students in these classes, not all of whom are majors, bring freshness and enthusiasm to the readings as they continue to master French while at the same time learning how to read and analyze literature as they would in a comparable English course. It's challenging for them but potentially a time of great discovery and growth. I also enjoy teaching courses on Medieval French literature with graduate students and advanced undergraduates. They read mostly in Modern French translation but using bilingual editions gives me the opportunity to show students how lively the originals are and how readable with a little bit of work. With these courses I offer a supplementary Old French class once a week that meets informally in my office. It's a great pleasure to work closely with grad students, MAs and PhDs, many of whom come to these voluntary sessions. Whereas the regular classes are always in French, these classes take place in English in an atmosphere both relaxed and intense. I select a passage for them to read out loud and translate with my help; we discuss linguistic and literary issues and generally indulge our shared passion for French literature as they encounter (usually for the first time) works from the Middle Ages, an experience that happily reveals that it does not correspond to their narrow expectations.