Ari Blatt

Associate Professor and Chair
335 New Cabell Hall

Office Hours:
Tuesday 12-2, and by appointment


Ari Blatt’s scholarship focuses on modern and contemporary French literature and culture. His first book, Pictures into Words, explores the impact of the visual and visual culture on contemporary French fiction. His interest in the various connections that crop up between media also led him to co-edit, with Jan Baetens (KU Leuven), an issue of Yale French Studies entitled “Writing and the Image Today” (2008). Other published work includes articles on television and literature; on “interphototextuality” in narrative, theory, the visual arts, and criticism; on manic fiction; on the suspension of movement in cinema; and on the recent trend of itinerant topographical narratives from France. With Edward Welch (U. of Aberdeen), he is currently co-editing a collection of essays entitled France in Flux: Topography, Territory, and Contemporary Culture (under contract with Liverpool University Press). He is also writing a book on the depiction of space and landscape in contemporary French photography.

Prof. Blatt regularly supervises undergraduate and graduate student research. He has directed over a dozen Distinguished Major Theses in the last decade on a range of topics that include: rap and violence in the banlieue; religion in Flaubert and Hugo; cinema and poetry about the Nazi Occupation of France; the “French Paradox”; and representations of diversity in contemporary Francophone bandes dessinées. He has also directed a number of Ph.D. dissertations on subjects that span the modern and contemporary periods (on project-based narratives; on the “roman américain”; on gastronomy and culture; and on the scatological dimensions of the Holocaust). He teaches seminars that engage many of these themes, and more, and consistently strives to make his courses relevant beyond the classroom. Prof. Blatt firmly believes that, as a faculty member, he owes it to his students to be generous, compassionate, open minded and, occasionally, funny. 

In addition to his research and teaching, he has served as Director of Graduate Studies in French (2012-2014), and, since 2014, as Chair of the Department.


Bachelor of Arts (B.A,), Brandeis University

Master of Arts (M.A.), University of Pennsylvania

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), University of Pennsylvania

Research Interests

Twentieth- and Twenty-First Century French Literature and Film; Word and Image Studies; History and Theory of Photography, and Contemporary Photography from France; Contemporary French Civilization and Culture.


Buckner W. Clay Grant for Emerging Issues in the Global Humanities, University of Virginia, Institute of the Humanities and Global Cultures (2014-2015)

University Teaching Fellowship, University of Virginia Teaching Resource Center (2010-2011)

Sesquicentennial Fellowship, University of Virginia (2009-2010, 2017-2018)

Summer Stipend, University of Virginia, College of Arts and Sciences (2007, 2011, 2014, 2017)

Excellence in Diversity Fellowship, University of Virginia Teaching Resource Center (2006-2007)

Bourse Chateaubriand, Dissertation Grant for Research in France, Ambassade de France aux Etats-Unis, Washington, D.C. (2003-2004)

Bourse Jeanne Marandon, Dissertation Grant for Research in France, Société des Professeurs Français et Francophones d’Amérique, New York (2003-2004)

Dean’s Award for Distinguished Teaching, School of Arts and Sciences, University of Pennsylvania (2002)

Penn Prize for Excellence in Teaching by Graduate Students, University of Pennsylvania (2002)

Publications and Other Scholarly Activity


Pictures into Words: Images in Contemporary French Fiction (Lincoln, NE and London: University of Nebraska Press, 2012).

Reviewed in The French Review, Acta Fabula, French Studies, H-France Review, Modern & Contemporary France, Image & Narrative.

Edited Volumes

Writing and the Image Today, ed. Jan Baetens and Ari J. Blatt, Yale French Studies 114 (Nov. 2008).

France in Flux: Topography, Territory, and Contemporary Culture, ed. Ari J. Blatt and Edward Welch (under contract with Liverpool University Press).


“Traversing the Territoire,” Romanic Review (forthcoming).

“Un territoire truffé de traces,” Nouvelles Francographies 5:1 (2015): 49-68.

“Détours en France: On the Road with Jean-Christophe Bailly and Raymond Depardon,” Contemporary French Civilization 39:2 (July 2014): 161-77. Also published as “Tours et détours en France: Sur la route avec Jean-Christophe Bailly et Raymond Depardon,” Portraits de pays illustrés: Un genre phototextuel, ed. Anne Reverseau (Paris: Classiques Garnier, “Lire et voir”), forthcoming.

“Thinking Photography in Film, or The Suspended Cinema of Agnès Varda and Jean Eustache,” French Forum 36:2-3 (Spring/Fall 2011): 181-200.

“Tanguy Viel’s Manic Fictions,” Contemporary French and Francophone Studies: Sites 14:4 (September 2010): 373-380.

“Phototextuality: Photography, Literature, Criticism,” Visual Studies 24:2 (Sep. 2009): 108-21.

“The Interphototextual Dimension of Annie Ernaux and Marc Marie’s L’Usage de la photo,” Word & Image 25:1 (Jan.-Mar. 2009): 46-55.

 “The Revolution will be Televised, or Didier Daeninckx’s Cathode Fictions,” in “Writing the Image Today,” Jan Baetens and Ari J. Blatt, eds. Yale French Studies 114 (Nov. 2008): 144-55.

“The Play’s the Thing: Marivaux and the Banlieue in Abdellatif Kechiche’s L’Esquive,” The French Review 81:3 (Feb. 2008): 34-45.

“Towards an Iconology of the Text: Art History and the Expanded Field in Claude Simon’s Triptyque,” Word & Image 22:1 (Jan.-Mar. 2006): 68-76.

“Remake: Appropriating Film in Tanguy Viel’s Cinéma,” Contemporary French and Francophone Studies: Sites 9:4 (Dec. 2005): 379-86.

Book Reviews

Akane Kawakami, Photobiography: Photographic Self-Writing in Proust, Guibert, Ernaux, and Macé (Oxford: Legenda, 2013). Reviewed in The French Review 89:2 (2015): 220.

Leon Sachs, The Pedagogical Imagination: The Republican Legacy in Twenty-First-Century French Literature and Film (Lincoln and London: U of Nebraska P, 2014). Reviewed in Contemporary French Civilization 40:1 (2015): 98-100.

Rosa Mucignat, Realism and Space in the Novel, 1795-1869: Imagined Geographies (Farnham: Ashgate, 2013).  Reviewed in Modern Language Review 109:1 (2014): 228-29.

Christine Baron and Manfred Engel, eds. Realism/Anti-Realism in 20th-Century Literature  (Amsterdam, New York, and Berlin: Rodopi and Weidler Bucherverlag, 2010). Reviewed in Modern Language Review 107:3 (July 2012): 900-902.

Bérénice Bonhomme, Claude Simon, la passion cinéma (Villeneuve d’Ascq: PU du Septentrion, 2011). Reviewed in Romanic Review 102.1-2 (Jan.-March 2011): 290-92.

Andrew Sobanet, Jail Sentences: Representing Prison in Twentieth-Century French Fiction (Lincoln and London: U of Nebraska P, 2008). Reviewed in French Forum 34:2 (Spring 2009): 154-56.

Rosemary Lloyd, Shimmering in a Transformed Light: Writing the Still Life (Ithaca: Cornell UP, 2005). Reviewed in French Forum 31: 1 (Winter 2006): 128-30.

Curated Exhibition

“Thierry Girard: L’intelligence du paysage/Intelligent Landscapes” University of Virginia, Department of French, February 16-May 18, 2015. A recap, which includes Prof. Blatt's introductory text in both French and English, can be found on the artist’s website.The exhibition was also featured in “L’oeil de la photograhie/The Eye of Photography: The Daily Magazine of Photography.”

Representative Courses

Graduate Courses

Palimpsestic Culture: Remakes, Rewritings, Recyclings, and other Aesthetic Borrowings

Thinking the Visual/Writing the Image in Modern and Contemporary France

French Literature Now!

The Occupation and Its Ambiguous Legacies

Consumerism, Mass Culture, and the Spectacle in France (1945-2008)

The Contemporary Novel, or "Is French Literature Burning?"

Writing and Photography

Undergraduate Courses

Literature of the Nineteenth, Twentieth, and Twenty-first-Centuries: Great Books

The Occupation and After

Masterpieces of French Cinema

Reflections of the Republic in Literature and Film

Literature of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries: Things

Making Paris Modern: A Secret History of the City of Light (J-Term)

From Ordinary to Extraordinary: How the Arts Transform Everyday Life (College Advising Seminar)