Roland LeHuenen

Professor of Comparative Literature and French
PhD Strasbourg, 1968

lehuenenContact Information

Phone: 416-813-4053
Office: Northrop Frye 331
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Roland J. Le Huenen was educated at the universities of Caen and Strasbourg. Since 1968, he has been on the faculty of the University of Toronto, where he is Professor of French and Comparative Literature. He took office as Director of the Centre for Comparative Literature in 1998 and served until 2009. He has lectured extensively throughout North America and Europe, has been Visiting Professor at the universities of Tel Aviv, Montreal and Paris 7 and has held the Distinguished Melodia Jones Professorship in French Literature at SUNY Buffalo from 1986 to 1994. More recently he was a visiting scholar at the Université de Paris-Sorbonne. He is one of the founding members of of the Groupe international de recherches balzaciennes (GIRB). He is the author of numerous articles and books on various topics, focusing especially on Balzac, the 19th Century French novel and travel literature. His books include : Balzac, sémiotique du personnage romanesque (1980), Récits, contes et légendes de Saint-Pierre et Miquelon (Prix France-Acadie 1986), a critical edition of Gobineau’s Voyage à Terre-Neuve (1989), Discourse on Voyages to the New World (ed. 1990), Le narratif hors de soi (ed. 1997), Itinéraires du XIXème siècle (co-ed.), vol. 1 and 2 (1996 and 2001), and Le Récit de voyage au prisme de la littérature (2015). He was awarded the Order of Palmes Académiques by the French Government in 1995, and received a D. Litt. (honoris causa) from the Memorial University of Newfoundland in 2006.


My research deals mainly with the French Literature of the XIXth century, and moves between two poles. In 1973 I co-founded the Groupe International de Recherches Balzaciennes (GIRB), now located at the University of Paris 7, whose aim was to examine the work of the French novelist Balzac through the lens of various contemporary theoretical approaches: semiotics, genetic criticism, sociocriticism (sociocritique), among others. My early work involved the study of Balzacian characters from the vantage point of semiotics and narratology. Current concerns have led me to explore how the novel in XIXth century France creates its own tools to offer a critical representation of the social issues of the time. My second research interest has drawn on a number of different issues found in travel narratives viewed from the perspective of an open genre. What are for instance in such narratives the connections between fiction and non-fiction, between entertainment and science, between various styles of description? What changes in the structure of the traditional travel account do occur, when takes place a sudden shift of the enunciative authority, when the professional writer takes over from the merchant, the sailor, the diplomat, the missionary, the soldier, as it is the case for literary travel narratives produced in France following the publication by Chateaubriand of his Itinerary from Paris to Jerusalem (1811)? Using this theoretical angle, there is still much to explore in the works of Hugo, Nerval, Gautier, Flaubert and Sand to name only a few of the XIXth century French writers who, besides fiction, drama or poetry, also wrote travel accounts.


Recent Publications

Le Récit de voyage au prisme de la littérature, Paris, Presses de l’Université Paris-Sorbonne (PUPS), 2015, 392 p.