WEBSITE(S)| French Studies | Center for the Study of Women, Gender, and Sexuality | European Studies | Medical Humanities

A comparatist of French and European literature, Deborah Harter mainly works on fiction and poetics from the nineteenth century to the present. She has a particular interest in the relationship between art and science, especially medicine and the biosciences, and since 2014 she has co-taught an interdisciplinary course on “Conceiving and Misconceiving the Monstrous” (BIOC/HUMA 368) with Michael C. Gustin in the BioSciences. Harter’s book, Bodies in Pieces (1996) suggests a complex relation between realist and fantastic narrative of the nineteenth century, the one anxious to narrate an ever-exploding world of fragments, the other looking to find in the fragment an otherwise illusive wholeness. Currently, she is working to complete a second book project on The Art of Failure: Creative Impossibilities from Balzac to Silence of the Lambs, and she has just finished a collection of essays and reflections, On the Subject of Kissing Hairy Creatures, and Other Essays about Things that Matter.

At Rice, Harter is affiliated with the Center for the Study of Women, Gender, and Sexuality, the Program in Medical Humanities and the Moody Center for the Arts. She has been awarded fellowships from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, the American Comparative Literature Association, and the American Association of University Women. She served as Deputy Speaker and then Speaker of the Rice Faculty Senate at its inception. And she has won over a dozen awards in teaching and mentoring students, including the Phi Beta Kappa Teaching Prize, the Alison Sarofim Distinguished Teaching Professor in the Humanities Award, the Faculty Mentor of the Year Award, and the Impact Award for Contributions to Women at Rice. Four times she was the recipient of the George R. Brown Prize for Superior Teaching (2020, 2011, 1999, and 1996).


Selected Publications

1. Books and Edited Volumes

  • Bodies in Pieces: Fantastic Narrative and the Poetics of the Fragment (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1996).

2. Journal Articles and Book Chapters

  • “Betİmsel Kirilmanin Erotigi: Balzac’in 'Bilinmeyen Şaheser’İne Işik Tutmak',” in Honoré de Balzac, Bilinmeyen Saheser (Istanbul: Iletisim Yayiniari, 2013), 19-38. 
  • “Balancing Acts: French Studies in the Graduate and Undergraduate Classroom,” in Charles J. Stivale (ed.), Modern French Literary Studies: Pedagogical Strategies (New York: Modern Language Association of America, 2004), 198-207.
  • “Medievalism in Flaubert,” in Laurence M. Porter (ed.), A Gustave Flaubert Encyclopedia (London: Greenwood Press, 2001), 922-4.
  • “Baudelaire and the Poetics of Perversity,” in Laurence Porter (ed.), Approaches to Teaching Baudelaire’s “Fleurs du Mal” (New York: Modern Language Association of America, 1999), 108-15.
  • “Silenced by the City: Maupassant’s Flâneur and Uneasy Dreams,” in Clayton Koelb and Raymond Prier (eds.), Narrative Ironies (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1997), 181-91.
  • “Divided Selves, Ironic Counterparts: Intertextual Doubling in Baudelaire’s ‘L’Héautontimorouménos’ and Poe’s ‘The Haunted Palace,’” Comparative Literature Studies 26 (1989), 28-38.
  • “From Represented to Literal Space: Fantastic Narrative & the Body in Pieces,” L’Esprit créateur 28 (1988), 23-35.
  • “The Artist on Trial: Kafka and ‘Josefine, die Sängerin,’” Deutsche Vierteljahrsschrift für Literaturwissenschaft und Geistesgeschichte 61 (1987), 3-14. 

Research Areas

19th-Century Fiction; Literary Theory; Gender and the Body; Literature and Psychoanalysis


PhD, University of California, Berkeley

Teaching Areas

French Studies

European Studies

Women, Gender, and Sexuality

Medical Humanities


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