Dr. Emile Fromet de Rosnay

Dr. Emile Fromet de Rosnay
Director/adviser for cultural social and political thought (CSPT)

PhD (Queen's 2007)

Office: Clearihue Building C228

It is in the nature of disciplines to always deviate from themselves according to the pressures exerted by unexpected questions, angles and perspectives that challenge their constitutive methods. One might not feel fully at home in a department, but this can be a good thing. The students and faculty of CSPT together generate spaces of research tht take this seriously in an effort to develop individual approaches to writing outside of a discipline whilst maintaining fidelity to its research questions. Indeed, the program works from the position that theory itself—whatever else it may mean—necessitates such activity.

As a researcher, I have gone through many disciplines in this kind of drift, but some questions have always followed me. During my undergrad at York University (Toronto), I started out double-majoring in film and anthropology, then studied English and French. When I studied Comparative Literature at the Université de Montréal for my MA, in a predominantly theory-oriented program, certain questions from my previous disciplinary mix came back as I focused on problems of linguistic (Creole) post/neocolonial identity in the island of Mauritius. Switching to French Studies for my doctorate at Queen’s University opened me up to different critical traditions, but similar obsessions emerged. Despite the disciplinary isolationism that persists in the human sciences (generally, Francophone literary critics don’t read Anglophone ones and vice versa), the things I studied required methodological flexibility and an understanding that one needs to enter into a dialogue with the dominant questions of a field.

For my doctorate, I looked at French modernist Stéphane Mallarmé through the problems of the 19th century and the larger epistemological context of comparative grammar whilst bringing to these questions the approaches of critical theory and the socio-political implications of the “high commerce of letters” (Mallarmé’s phrase). My recent work on the historical nature of experience, particularly through the lens of the shattered legacy of a “general science of the human” (Agamben), brings together preoccupations that traverse my career, and can be seen in recent article on the way Syrian-born French linguist Benveniste informs Agamben’s notion of potentiality.

Post-Enlightenment notions of subjectivity depend on basic assumptions that must be torn apart if we are to define a political project to come. How do we account for the Saussurian legacy and the enunciative (Benveniste/Foucault)? This requires seeing potentiality, in Agamben’s sense, as distinct from human will as praxis, in post-conscious, post-subjective terms. Any search for a “general science of the human” in the posthuman context is thus multiple in approaches and exceeds strict disciplinary boundaries such as those of linguistics, revealing an excess that constituted those boundaries in the first place.

My fields of research are thus broad and varied, but turn around specific questions related to the problems of knowledge after the demise of a “general science of the human” and of comparative grammar, and the reconfigurations of embodiment consequent to the biopolitical. I seek new ways to think about the future through interrogations and negations.

I have published articles on Mauritian fiction, Stéphane Mallarmé, narrative topoï and digital humanities, have a book published on Mallarmé, Mallarmésis (2011), and I am preparing articles on uselessness, Agamben’s genealogies, his recuperation of Benveniste, and the way he has thought through the Saussurian legacy (and where to go from there). I am planning a manuscript on Useless Humanity. I co-direct, with Richard J. Lane (VIU), the Critical Digital Humanities research group under the auspices of the Electronic Textual Cultures Lab.

Selected publications


Mallarmésis: Mythopoétique de Stéphane Mallarmé. New York: Peter Lang, 2011.


"Mallarmé's 'Salut' and the Tragic 'Acte'", in Joseph Acquisto (ed), Thinking Poetry: Philosophical Approaches to Nineteenth-Century French Poetry. London: Palgrave MacMillan, 2013: 131-148.
"The Circuits of Reading the Digital: Some Models," in Scholarly and Research Communication 3:4, 2012.
"Le coup de dés numérisé : modèles, défis, perspectives" in Synergies Canada 3 (2012).
"Science and symptom from Mallarmé to the Digital Poet", Text and Image Relations in Modern European Culture, Grigorian, Natasha, Thomas Baldwin and Margaret Rigaud-Drayton (eds.). West Lafayette, IN: Purdue University Press, 2012.
“Allégorie et lectricide: l’hétérogène dans Moi, l’interdite d’Ananda Devi” in Écritures mauriciennes au féminin : penser l'altérité. Paris: L’Harmattan, 2011.
“Mallarmé’s ‘Acte’ as Impossible Sacrifice: Notes Towards a History of the Lie”, Rhetoric, Politics, Ethics: http://www.rpe.ugent.be/proceedings.html.
With Anne Graham, Greg Lessard, Stéfan Sinclair, Max Vernet, François Rouget, Élisabeth Zawisza. "TopoSCan à la recherche de la topique Romanesque", in Daniel Maher (ed.), Tempus in fabula. Topoï de la temporalité narrative dans la fiction d'Ancien Régime (Québec: Presses Universitaires de Laval, 2006): 21-32.
"Le mensonge impossible : Mallarmé et sa 'Notion'" Les Cahiers Stéphane Mallarmé 2 (2005): 33-57.