Helen Solterer studied in Washington, Paris, Dublin, and Toronto where she received her PhD. Her research focuses on pre-modern literature and culture, and its interplay with twentieth-century and contemporary thought. Her last book, Medieval Roles for Modern Times, investigates the politics and aesthetics of reviving the earliest drama during two World Wars. The French adaptation, Un Moyen Âge républicain: paradoxes du théâtre en temps de guerre, is appearing with Presses de l’Université Paris-Sorbonne, June 2014.
She is currently working on two books: “Timely Fictions” on the multiple times and places of pre-modern theater, poetry, pictorial narrative; and “Love to Hate: A Premodern Legacy?” on hate speech and fiction. Her first book that debated the question of defamation in a feminist vein won the MLA Scaglione Prize: The Master and Minerva: Disputing Women in French Medieval Culture (California, 1995). A third area of her work involves performance – history and practice. It led to her co-organizing a workshop at the Théâtre Ouvert, Paris, “Théâtre et Résistance -- Dépersonnalisation et Identité: Odette Rosenstock & Moussa Abadi,” in June 2009. She is a contributor to a forthcoming collection on the History of Theater in France with l’Avant-Scène. After hours, she pursues other writing: on teaching fiction in French, as well as on Franco-Irish literary connections.
Her teaching challenges students to explore critical questions historically. Courses include “Courtly Love and Hate;” “Imagining Europe;” “History of Free Speech: France-USA;” “French Short Fiction”; “World War II: Fiction meets History.” Current graduate seminars are: “Premodern Times: A User’s Manual” and “The Writer in the City.”
In research as in teaching, Solterer collaborates actively. As Director of the French and Francophone Studies, she coordinates the initiative, “Francophone Digital Humanities”, that received a major grant from the Embassy of France. She is also involved in collaborations with French universities, especially the Université Diderot-Paris 7. Her work on the project “Translating Europe,” brings writers to campus, those in the French, as well as other Romance traditions.