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Vincent BruyereAssociate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies (spring 2024)French


Ph.D. in French Studies, University of Warwick, UK


Vincent Bruyère, Associate Professor (Ph.D. in French Studies, University of Warwick, UK.)

My research draws on literary theory, visual culture, and the history of the body in an effort to rethink contemporary politics of life, health, and sustainability in a historicized perspective. In my new book, Perishability Fatigue: Forays in Environmental Loss and Decay (Columbia University Press, 2018), I ask, what is it like to have one’s present engendered by survivalist scenarios? What does it mean to be mortal or exhausted in the age of sustainability? The objective is to draw attention to the scripts and scenarios that mediate our relations to loss and decay, but also to emphasize the inequalities implicit in technologies of storage and burial, which promise continuity in the future to some while refusing it to others.

I have recently completed a new book which takes up and develops the idea of a cultural memory of transience introduced in Perishability Fatigue as a means to historicize contemporary politics of termination and conservation. The Vanitas Hypothesis confronts the seeming pointlessness of the humanities amidst spectacularly negative future projections of environmental collapse. 

The Anthropocene hypothesis offers a picture big enough to reabsorb all the other pictures of the world, leaving nothing behind but a sedimented deposit. That deposit may indeed be of interests to geologists of the future, who will find in it evidence that something of geological importance occurred—or evidence of the contrary—but not so interesting to those of us stuck in the Anthropocene meantime, waiting for the grand flattening that will eventually turn millennia of civilizational record into compacted dust. The Vanitas Hypothesis is a response to that state of affairs. It is about the threat that the Anthropocene hypothesis poses for the study of the historical record, but also the interpretive affordances it creates. Bearing witness to quieter forms of erasure at work in the Anthropocene present, this book paints a series of unsettling encounters between early modern sources and contemporary visual culture, through motifs that both recall and renew the vanitas tradition: broken landscapes, leaking toxics, shallow resting places, and even artificial meat. 

My other works in progress include essays on pedagogies of health and epidemiological realism. 


Recent Publications

2022 — “Lascaux IV, Chauvet II, Planet B. Substance 51 (1): 88-102. 

2019 - “Terraformings.” Imaginations: Journal of Cross-cultural Image Studies 10:2.

2019 - “Puss in Boots Goes to Pleistocene Park.” Oxford Literary Review. 41.1 Ed. Sarah Wood. Special issue “Ext: Writing Extinction.” 127-140.

2018 - Perishability Fatigue: Forays in Environmental Loss and Decay. New York: Columbia University Press, 2018.

2018 - “Cancer Culture avant la lettre.” Somatosphere. []  

2018 - “Stroke and the Remembered Body: You See MeDirected by Linda S. Brown, 2015.” Journal of Medical Humanities (2018): 1-5. 

2012 - La différence francophone: De Jean Léry à Patrick Chamoiseau. Rennes: Presses universitaires de Rennes, 2012. 


Vincent new bookPerishability Fatigue