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Mary Ann Caws
Position: Distinguished Professor, Graduate School. Comparative Literature, English, French, Film Studies
Phone: 212-817-8371
Room Number: 4206.02
Office Hours: By appointment
Degrees/Diplomas: Ph.D., University of Kansas; Honorary D.H.L. (Doctor of Human Letters), Union College
Research Interests: Modernism and modernist art; comparative poetics and poetry; art and literature in America, England, and France; translation and translation theory; contemporary aesthetics; the essay; autobiography; Bloomsbury; Dada and surrealism; film studies.
Specialization: Autobiography, Biography, and Life-Writing|Film and Literature|Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist/Queer Theory|Modernism|Poetics and Aesthetic Theory|Visual Culture


  • Chapter on "Breton, Char, and French Poetry" in A History of Modern French Literature: From the Sixteenth Century to the Twentieth Century, ed. Pendergast, forthcoming, Princeton University Press, 2016.
  • Miracles and Reason: The Life and Works of Blaise Pascal (Reaktion Books, 2017)

Selected Publications:

  • Surrealism and the Literary Imagination. The Hague: Mouton, 1966.
  • The Poetry of Dada and Surrealism. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1971.
  • The Inner Theatre of Recent French Poetry. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1972.

  • André Breton. Boston: Twayne, 1974.

  • The Presence of René Char. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1976.

  • René Char. Boston: Twayne, 1976.

  • The Surrealist Voice of Robert Desnos. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1977.

  • La Main de Pierre Reverdy. Geneva: Droz, 1979.

  • The Eye in the Text: Essays on Perception, Mannerist to Modern. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1981.

  • A Metapoetics of the Passage: Architextures Surrealist and After. Hanover: University of New England Press, 1981.

  • L'Oeuvre filante de René Char. Paris: Nizet, 1981.

  • Yves Bonnefoy. Boston: Twayne, 1984.

  • Reading Frames in Modern Fiction. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1986.

  • Edmond Jabès. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1988.

  • The Art of Interference: Stressed Readings in Visual and Verbal Texts. Cambridge: Polity, and Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1988.

  • Women of Bloomsbury: Virginia, Vanessa, and Carrington. New York and London: Routledge, 1990.

  • Robert Motherwell: What Art Holds. New York: Columbia University Press, 1995).

  • Carrington and Lytton/ Alone Together. London: Cecil Woolf, 1996.

  • André Breton, Revisited. New York: Twayne, 1996.

  • The Surrealist Look: An Erotics of Encounter. Cambridge: M.I.T. Press, 1997.

  • Surrealism and the Art of Display.  Wexner Center, Fall, 1997.

  • Bloomsbury and France: Art and Friends. (with Sarah Bird Wright)  New York:  Oxford University Press, 1999.

  • Picasso's Weeping Woman: the Life and Art of Dora Maar (Boston:Little Brown/Bulfinch, 2000)

  • Dora Maar With and Without Picasso: A Biography (London: Thames and Hudson, 2000)

  • Les Vies de Dora Maar: Bataille, Picasso et les surrealistes (Paris: Thames & Hudson, 2000)

  • Dora Maar con y sin Picasso: una biografia (Madrid: Destino, 2000)

  • Die Kunsterlin an Picasso's Seite (Berlin: Nicolai, 2000)

  • Dora Maar: med og uden Picasso : en biografi (Copenhagen: Forlaget Soren Fogtdal, 2001)

  • Virginia Woolf: Illustrated Lives (London: Penguin, 2001)

  • Marcel Proust: Illustrated Lives (Overlook, 2003)

  • Robert Motherwell with Pen and Brush (Reaktion Books, 2003)

  • To the Boathouse: A Memoir (University of Alabama Press, 2004)

  • Picasso (Critical Lives series) (Reaktion Books, 2005)

  • Surrealism (London: Phaidon, 2005) (Themes and Movements series)

  • Surprised in Translation (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006)

  • Glorious Eccentrics: Seven Modernist Women Painting, Writing, Resisting (Palgrave Macmillan, 2006)

  • Henry James: Illustrated Lives (Overlook Duckworth, 2006)

  • Salvador Dali: Critical Lives (Reaktion Books, 2008)

  • Provencal Cooking: Savoring the Simple Life in France (Pegasus Books, 2008)

  •  Why Vita Matters (Bloomsbury Heritage Series, 2011)

  • Pierre Reverdy, ed. MAC (New York Review Books, 2013)

  • Modern Art Cookbook (Reaktion Books, 2013)



  • Théorie/Tableau/Texte.  Paris: Minard, 1983.

  • About French Poetry from Dada to Tel Quel: Theory and Text. Detroit: Wayne State, 1984.

  • The Prose Poem in France (co-editor with Hermine Riffaterre). New York: Columbia University Press, 1985.

  • Le Manifeste et le caché. Paris: Minard, 1981.

  • Le Texte et son double.  Paris: Lettres Modernes, 1985.

  • Writing in a Modern Temper. Stanford: Anma Libri, 1984.

  • Textual Analysis: Some Readers Reading. New York: Modern Language Association, 1986.

  • Perspectives on Perception: Philosophy, Art, and Literature. New York: Peter Lang, 1988.

  • Edmond Jabès. (co-editor with Richard Stamelman)  Geneva: Editions de la Montagne, 1989.

  • Reading Proust Now. (co-editor with Eugène Nicole)  New York: Peter Lang, 1990.

  • Selected Poems of René Char. (co-editor with Tina Jolas and translated)  New York: New Directions, 1992.

  • Women and Surrealism. (co-editor with Ruedi Kuenzli and Gwen Raaberg)  Cambridge: M.I.T. Press, 1991.

  • City Images. Philadelphia, Gordon and Breach, 1991.

  • L'Esprit Créateur. (co-editor with Richard Stamelman) 32, 2 (Summer 1992).

  • Joseph Cornell's Theater of the Mind: Selected Journals, Letters, and Files. New York and London: Thames and Hudson, 1994.

  • HarperCollins World Reader. (chief editor)  New York: HarperCollins, 1994.

  • Contre-Courants: Les femmes s'écrivent à travers les siècles. (co-edited with Nancy K. Miller, Elizabeth Houlding, and Cheryl Morgan)  Prentice Hall, 1994.

  • Carto-graphies. (co-editor with Mary Jean Green, Marianne Hirsch, Ronnie Scharfman)  New Haven: Yale University Press, 1995.

  • "Around Yves Bonnefoy" (co-editor with Renée Waldinger)  Special issue of L'Esprit Créateur, 36, 3 (Fall 1996).

  • Surrealist Painters and Poets (Cambridge: MIT, 2001)

  • Manifesto: A Century of Isms (Lincoln: Univ. of Nebraska Press, 2001)

  • The Yale Book of Twentieth Century French Poetry: a Bilingual Anthology (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002) (aided by French Government)

  • Inventing the Real: Henry James and Edith Wharton (Feminist Press, 2008)

  • Pierre Reverdy, ed. MAC (New York Review Books, 2013)

  • Modern Art Cookbook (Reaktion Books, 2013)



  • Tristan Tzara, Approximate Man and Other Writings, 1974.

  • Poems of René Char. (with Jonathan Griffin)  Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1976.

  • Roof Slates and other Poems of Pierre Reverdy. (with Patricia Terry)  Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1981.

  • Selected Poems and Prose of Stephane Mallarmé. New York: New Directions, 1982.

  • Poems of André Breton. (with Jean-Pierre Cauvin)  Austin: University of Texas Press, 1982.

  • Selected Poems of St-John Perse. New York: New Directions, 1982.

  • André Breton, Mad Love. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1987.

  • And Breton, Communicating Vessels. (with Geoffrey Harris)  Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1991.

  • Marcelin Pleynet, Robert Motherwell. Paris: Daniel Papierski, 1990.

  • Selected Poems of Pierre Reverdy. (editor and co-translator with John Ashbery and Patricia Terry) Winston-Salem: Wake Forest University Press, 1991.

  • Selected Poems of René Char.  (editor and co-translator with Tina Jolas)  New York: New Directions, 1991.

  • Jacques Derrida and Paule Thévenin, The Secret Art of Antonin Artaud. Cambridge: M.I.T. Press, 1998.

  • André Breton, Lost Steps. (co-editor with Mark Polizzotti)  Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1996.

  • André Breton, Break of Day. (co-translator and co-editor with Mark Polizzotti) Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1999.

  • Mallarme in Prose (New York: New Directions, 2001)

  • Louis-René des Forêts, Ostinato, (University of Nebraska Press, 2002).

  • Surrealism, London and New York: Phaidon (Themes and Movements Series), 2004.

  • Ed. and tr. Tristan Tzara: L'Homme approximatif and other texts. Boston: Black Widow Press, 2004.

  • Ed and tr. with Jean-Pierre Cauvin: Poems of André Breton. Boston: Black Widow Press, 2005.

  • Ed. and tr. With Patricia Terry and Nancy Piore: Paul Eluard, Capital of Pain. Boston: Black Widow Books,2006.

  • Ed. and tr. The Essential Desnos. Boston: Black Widow Press, 2007.

  • Ed. and translated: René Char: Furor and Mystery and Other Texts, ed. with Nancy Piore.. Boston: Black Widow Press, 2011.

  • Ghérasim Luca, Self-Shadowing Prey, Translated with an introduction by Mary Ann Caws.

  • Lorand Gaspar, Absolute Earth.

Elected Positions:

  • President, Association for Study of Dada and Surrealism, 1971-75

  • President, Modern Language Association of America, 1983

  • President, Academy of Literary Studies, 1984-5

  • President, American Comparative Literature Association, 1989-91

  • Elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 2010

  • Fellow of the New York University institute for the Humanities,

  • Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences


Guggenheim Fellow, Fulbright Fellow; National Endowment for the Humanities Senior Fellow; Director, National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Seminars (2); Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar; life member of Clare Hall, Cambridge University; Getty Scholar; Rockefeller Foundation (Bellagio); Virginia Center for the Creative Arts.


Editor: Le Siècle éclaté (Paris: 1973--); Co-Editor, Dada and Surrealism (1980--); Chief Editor, HarperCollins World Reader (1994).
Editorial Board: College Literature; Comparative Literature Studies; Comparative Studies; Diacritics; French Review (1970-80); Modern Fiction Studies; New York Literary Forum; Publications of the Modern Language Association (PMLA,1979-81); Sites; Twentieth Century Studies.
Advisor: Poems for the Millennium: The University of California Book of Modern Poetry; Avant-Garde and Modernism Studies