Santa Clara University

Modern Languages and Literatures department
Montfort, faculty

Catherine Montfort, Ph.D.

Department: Modern Languages
Title: Chair, Department of Modern Languages & Literatures;   Professor, French & Women's Studies

Office: Kenna 225 K
Phone: 408-554-4056
Curriculum Vitae

Biographical Information

CATHERINE R. MONTFORT is Professor of French and Women's and Gender Studies at the University of Santa Clara. She was born in Marseille, France and received her PhD from Stanford University. At SCU she teaches a variety of language, culture and literature classes. She is the author of several books (among them Les Fortunes de Mme de Sévigné au XVIIème et XVIIIème siècles), and about forty articles and chapters on Agrippa d’Aubigné, Mme de Sévigné, Charlotte Corday, Mme de Staël, Mme Campan, Vigée Lebrun, Simone de Beauvoir et Annie Ernaux. She has edited a volume entitledLiterate Women and the French Revolution of 1789. She has also edited four volumes of WIF Studies as Executive Editor for the Women in French association, and co-edited three Special Volumes on varied topics.
Professor Montfort was President of the Women in French (WIF) Association for two terms and also President of the Pacific and Ancient Modern Language Association (PAMLA). For PAMLA she was editor/or co-editor of three issues of Pacific Coast Philology. She is interested in the epistolary genre, women writers and artists, the critical reception of works from the past, and cinema.
When not working, Professor Montfort enjoys all things French, but also music, ballet, cooking, swimming, sailing and hiking.


Courses Taught
  • Literature courses:

    Sixteenth Century French Literature
    Seventeenth Century French Literature
    Eighteenth Century French Literature
    Survey of French Literature I (Middle Ages to 18th Century)
    Seminar on the Theme of Love (Special topic)
    Introduction to Literary Analysis: poetry, novel and drama
    Women in French Literature from the Middle Ages to 20th Century: Authors and Characters
    Twentieth Century French Women Writers
    Introduction to Francophone Studies: From the Caribbean to Vietnam
    Women Writers from Black Africa
    French and Francophone Women Writers of the 20th and 21st centuries
    Politics of Love (spring 2007)
    NEW CORE: “Women in French Literature: Authors and Characters” (winter 2009), included in the Vocation Pathway

  • Language and Culture courses:

    Elementary French
    Intermediate French
    Intermediate French, “Le thème de la famille”
    Advanced French
    French Business Culture and Institutions
    Seminar on the Culture and Civilization of the Francophone World: From Quebec to Africa

  • Courses taught in translation:

    Twentieth Century French Women Writers
    Seminar on Gender in Modern French History and Literature (team-taught interdisciplinary class)
    French Novels and Films: Culture, Gender and Social Classes


Research Interests
  • Sixteenth century epic poetry
  • The epistolary genre
  •   French and Francophone Women Writers and Artists
  • Reception History of works by 17th and 18th Century Women Writers
  • Film studies


Recent Honors and Awards
  • President of the International Women in French Association (WIF), January 2000. Re-elected, January 2002.
  •  Recipient of the Annual Award for Sustained Excellence in Scholarship, in all three schools, College of Arts and Sciences, Leavy School of Business and School of Engineering, Santa Clara University, 2002.
  •  President of the Pacific and Ancient Modern Language Association (PAMLA), 2003.
  •  Advisory Board member, Pacific Coast Philology, 2005-2006, renewed 2006-2007. Reinvited for a 3-year term, 2007-2010. 
Selected Publications
  • Les Fortunes de Mme de Sévigné au XVIIè et au XVIIIè siècles. Préface de Roger Duchêne. Collection: Etudes littéraires françaises.  Paris: Jean‑Michel Place, 1982.
  • "Classical Mythology and Baroque in Les Tragiques." Baroque:  Literature and the other Arts.  Essays in memory of Robert N. Nicolich. Papers on French Seventeenth Century Literature 15 (1988): 497‑515.
  • "Engagement : Introduction du texte littéraire dans un cours de langue." French Review 62 (1989): 623‑30.
  • "Grouvelle, lecteur de Mme de Sévigné : la `scandaleuse édition' de 1806." Papers on French Seventeenth Century French Literature 19.37 (1992): 501‑514.
  • Literate Women and the French Revolution of 1789, editor. Summa Publications, 1994. Reviewed French Review 70. 4 (March 1997): 598.
  • "For the Defence: Charlotte Corday's letters from prison." Studies on Voltaire and the Eighteenth Century 329 (1995): 235-247.
  • "Mme Campan's Institution d’Education: A Revolution in the Education of Women" (with Terrie J. Quintana). Australian Journal of French Studies XXXIII.1(1996): 30-41.
  • "Mme de Sévigné: 17th Century Feminist?" French Studies 50.2 (April 1996): 144-156.
  •  "'La vieille née’ :  Simone de Beauvoir, Une mort très douce and Annie Ernaux, Une femme." French Forum 21.3 (September 1996): 349-364.
  •  "La ‘souriante maternité’ de Vigée Le Brun : Le point de vue de Simone de Beauvoir." Dalhousie French Studies 36 (Fall 1996): 113-21.
  • "Madame de Sévigné et le Chevalier de Grignan : ‘Le Chevalier sans peur et sans reproche’" (with student Leah Ball). In Madame de Sévigné (1626-1696): Provence, spectacles, "lanternes." Grignan: Direction des Archives de France, 1998. 93-108.
  • "Les méchancetés de Mme de Sévigné" (with student Rima Lanning)." Papers on French Seventeenth Century Literature XXVI. 50 (1999): 131-158.
  •  “Mme de Sévigné and the Jesuits in the Siècle des Lumières.” Studies on Voltaire and the Eighteenth Century 12 (2001): 167- 77.
  • “Romans et leurs adaptations cinématographiques : héroïnes à l’écran.” French and Francophone Women from the XVIth to the XXIst Centuries: Essays on Literature, Culture and Society with Bibliographical and Media Resources. A Special issue of Women in French Studies, 2002. 380-401.
  •  “Alexandrine Claude Guérin de Tencin (1682-1749).” The French Enlightenment. Ed. Samia Spencer. Bruccoli Clark Layman Publishers, Summer 2005. 172-180.
  • “Self-Portraits, Portraits of Self: Adélaïde Labille-Guiard and Elisabeth Vigée Lebrun, Women Artists of the Eighteenth Century.” Pacific Coast Philology 40 (2005): 1-18.
  • French and Francophone Literature and Culture through Film, ed. (with Michèle Bissière). Women in French Studies. Special Issue, 2006. 395 pages Reviewed French Review 82.5 (April 2009): 1080-81.
  • Eclectic Expressions: Women's Triumphs. Past and Present, ed. (with Nadine Bérenguier and Juliette Rogers). Women in French Studies. Special Issue, 2008.
Women in French
Literate Women and the...
Les Fortunes...
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