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Jennifer Tsien

Associate Professor and Director of Undergraduate Program

Spring 2024 Office Hours

Tuesdays 2:00 - 5:00 PM and by appointment, NCH 337 or Zoom

Contact Professor Tsien for Zoom number and password:


  • Bachelor of Arts (BA), Tulane University
  • Master of Arts (MA), University of Virginia
  • Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Princeton University

Research Interests

Professor Tsien's primary area of research is the Enlightenment, especially Voltaire. In her first book, Voltaire and the Temple of Bad Taste, she focused on Voltaire's use of satire to enforce his rules of good writing, specifically in his comic epic about Joan of Arc, La Pucelle d'Orléans. In her second book, The Bad Taste of Others, she expanded her inquiry into French eighteenth-century ideas about good and bad literary taste. The French version of this monograph was published as Le Mauvais goût des autres: le jugement littéraire dans la France du XVIIIème siècle. It was reviewed in Le Monde

More recently, Professor Tsien has turned to her adopted home of Louisiana as an area of research. Her latest book, Rumors of Revolution: Song, Sentiment, and Sedition in Colonial Louisiana, demonstrates the ways in which people on both sides of the Atlantic protested imperial policies, for example through satirical songs, sentimental speeches, and fictionalized histories. Currently, she is writing a book entitled Secrets of New Orleans, which deals with misrepresentations of the city in popular culture and how some Louisiana-based creators such as Anne Rice and Beyoncé have taken back control of the narrative.

She is generally interested in research questions involving the satirical tradition, French aesthetics, and the history of New Orleans. She is also interested in developing a research project on the interplay between Francophone and Asian cultures.


UVa Page-Barbour grant, (2009-2010); UVa Teaching Resource Center, Professors as Writers grant (2006); Fulbright Fellowship (2000); Chateaubriand Fellowship (1997)

Representative Courses

  • The Enlightenment
  • Humor/Society/Power
  • French Literature, Founding Fathers
  • The Fictional Orient


  • Rumors of Revolution: Song, Sentiment, and Sedition in Colonial Louisiana (UVA Press, 2023).
  • Le Mauvais goût des autres: Le jugement littéraire dans la France du XVIIIe siècle (Hermann, 2017). The French edition of The Bad Taste of Others.[” ]
  • The Bad Taste of Others: Judging Literary Value in Eighteenth-Century France (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011) [link:]
  • Voltaire and the Temple of Bad Taste: A Study of La Pucelle d'Orléans (Oxford: Voltaire Foundation, 2003)

Selected Articles

  • "People as Food in Voltaire's Candide," in Persons: A History, Ed. Antonia LoLordo (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019), 182-86.
  • "Inassimilable: Gothic Francophobia in ‘The 'Haunted House' in Royal Street’" in The Dark Thread. From Tragical Histories to Gothic Tales, Ed. John Lyons (Newark: University of Delaware Press, 2019), 211- 224.
  • "The Danger of Liaisons," Eighteenth-Century Fiction, 30, no. 4 (2018), p. 571-579.
  • "L’Œil plus voluptueux': le corps humain dans l’esthétique de l’abbé Du Bos," Hermann, Paris 
  • "Quoniam le rôtisseur et les prisonniers du Mississippi,” in "Gagnons sans savoir comment," Florence Magnot-Ogilvy, ed. Presses Universitaires de Rennes, 2017. p. 207-220.
  • "Louisiana as a Figment of the Imagination: Raynal's Reflections on the Louisiana Colony," in Raynal’s ‘Histoire des deux Indes’: colonialism, networks and global exchange. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Studies in the Enlightenment, 2015
  • "Diderot's Battle against Books: Books as Objects during the Enlightenment and Revolution." Belphégor, 13-1 | 2015.
  • "La Poétique du dégoût: La Pucelle d’Orléans et l’influence de Milton et Pope." Revue Voltaire. Vol. 9 (2009). 
  • "Between Cleverness and Folly: the Enigmas of the Mercure galant." Cahiers du dix-septième. Volume XI:1 (2006).

Invited lectures

  • "New Orleans: Vampires, Vodou, and Beyoncé," Harvard Francophone Society, Harvard University, March 2021.
  • "The Joy of Bad Taste, or The Aesthetic Problem of Liking the Wrong Thing." Furman University, Greenville, SC, February 2019.
  • "From De la Salle to Big Freedia: Considerations on New Orleans and the Outside World." Tulane University, New Orleans, LA, October 2018.
  • “Of Songs, Rumors, and Suckling Pigs: the French Revolution Goes to the Americas.”University of Colorado, Boulder, CO, September 2016.
  • “The Sentimental Revolution of Louisiana, 1768.” Tulane University, New Orleans, LA, November 2015.
  • "Voltaire for the Twenty-First Century." Smithsonian Institution. Washington, DC, August 2015.
  • "Ghosts of the Enlightenment: Race, Reform, and Horror in New Orleans." Freie Universität Berlin, Germany, December 2012.
  • "What Is Bad Taste?" University of Virginia, January 2012.
  • "Le Mauvais goût des autres." Institut français, Hamburg, Germany. December 2009.
  • "Voltaire's Candide: An Introduction." Catholic University of America conference on "The Politics of Comedy," Washington, D.C., March 2007.