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My research focus is on the Francophone literary world at the turn of the 13th century, when French was used as a literary, mercantile, and colonial language from England to the Crusader kingdoms in the Levant. My current project insists upon romance being a political genre in late-twelfth and early-to-mid-thirteenth-century romances. This draws from queer theory and biopolitics, or the ways in which politics and government control, deploy, and understand bodies to analyze the very root of sovereignty and the fictions of the sovereign’s relation to governance in medieval literature and culture. I argue that medieval literature helps us understand that longer history of sovereignty’s relation to populations, bodies, and fictions of nation and nationhood, dismantling our current notions of biopolitical trajectories and francophone literary history. This trajectory of the Grail quest, as it is renewed with each new version of the Grail quest, allows us to trace how copies, adaptations, and continuations are acts of reading as much as they are acts of writing and composition. This project upsets trajectories of Grail romance as it has been understood, and rewrites the history of romance as a politically-engaged genre. This intervention aims to reposition romance as a genre that re-imagines political pasts and proposes alternate futures.


Ph.D. in French and Francophone Literature, Northwestern University.
Master’s in French and Francophone Literature, Northwestern University.
B.A. in French Literature. Summa cum laude, University of Massachusetts.
B.A. in Social Thought and Political Economy. Summa cum laude, University of Massachusetts.


“The Forest and the Heath: Defining the Human in Medieval Romance” (Literature Compass, Special Cluster: “Critical Race and the Middle Ages,” fall 2019). doi:10.1111/lic3.12541

“Guillaume de Lorris’s Unmaking of the Self: The Dreamer’s Queer Failures” in Medieval Futurity: Essays for the Future of a Queer Medieval Studies (New Queer Medievalisms Series, vol. 1), ed. Will Rogers and Christopher Michael Roman (Kalamazoo: Medieval Institute Publications, 2020).

Joseph Derosier

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