Julie Singer

Julie Singer

Chair, Department of Romance Languages and Literatures
Professor of French
PhD, Duke University

contact info:

office hours:

  • On-campus office hours: Wednesdays 10:00 AM-12:00 PM in Ridgley 310, beginning on Wednesday 7/21
    Zoom office hours: Mondays 1:00-3:00 PM at https://wustl.zoom.us/my/juliesinger and by appointment
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mailing address:

  • Washington University
    CB 1077
    One Brookings Drive
    St. Louis, MO 63130-4899

Professor Singer’s research focuses on medieval French and Italian literature and culture; particular interests include literature and medicine, the cultural history of science and technology, disability studies, posthuman theory, thing theory, and theories of language and voice.


Professor Singer is the author of Blindness and Therapy in Late Medieval French and Italian Poetry (2011) and Representing Mental Illness in Late Medieval France: Machines, Madness, Metaphor (2018), both published in Boydell and Brewer’s Gallica series. She is currently at work on a special issue of the journal Digital Philology on the theme of “Stranger/Medieval Things.” Her new book project explores the uses of fetal and infant speech in medieval French literature, law, and philosophy of language: read more about it here. https://humanities.wustl.edu/features/julie-singer-baby-talk-medieval-french-literature


Professor Singer teaches language and literature courses on a broad range of topics. Her undergraduate and graduate seminars have included the cultural memory of Joan of Arc; relationships between medieval and modern and contemporary culture; contacts between Europe and the East in medieval literature; objects and objectification; and body and disability in medieval texts. Her new Medical Humanities course “Medical Narratives, Narrative Medicine” uses medical literature and testimonials to help students develop their powers of observation, analysis, and oral and written expression in French.

Blindness and Therapy in Late Medieval French and Italian Poetry

Blindness and Therapy in Late Medieval French and Italian Poetry

This book argues that late medieval love poets, from Petrarch to Machaut and Charles d'Orléans, exploit scientific models as a broad framework within which to redefine the limits of the lyric subject and his body. Just as humoral theory depends upon principles of likes and contraries in order to heal, poetry makes possible a parallel therapeutic system in which verbal oppositions and substitutions counter or rewrite received medical wisdom. The specific case of blindness, a disability that according to the theories of love that predominated in the late medieval West foreclosed the possibility of love, serves as a laboratory in which to explore poets' circumvention of the logical limits of contemporary medical theory. Reclaiming the power of remedy from physicians, these late medieval French and Italian poets prompt us to rethink not only the relationship between scientific and literary authority at the close of the middle ages, but, more broadly speaking, the very notion of therapy.