Dr E M J Nye

Edward M.J. Nye, M.A., D.Phil.
Associate Professor of French, Fellow of Lincoln College

I am currently engaged in writing an intellectual biography of Jean-Gaspard Deburau. He was a Bohemian immigrant who arrived in early nineteenth-century Paris to play a small part in his father’s street theatre, but he subsequently became the star attraction, the quintessential white-faced Pierrot who greatly inspired contemporary writers such as Théophile Gautier and Baudelaire. He gave a new direction to the art of mime just as the most famous genre of mime, the Commedia dell’arte, was waning. He became (and still is) a model for mime theatre either to imitate or reject. The most famous image of him is ‘Baptiste’ in the 1945 film by Carné and Prévert, Les Enfants du paradis, played by Jean-Louis Barrault, himself one of the great twentieth-century actor-mimes. My book has a number of aims. On one level, I am identifying as much as is possible the kinds of physical techniques he used, or at least their aesthetic principles. On another level, I am considering not so much the man as the myth created around him, even in his own time, as an example of the way the Romantic movement manufactured an image which conformed more to Romantic aspirations than to anything else. An important dimension of my book will be the iconography.

I also have a research interest in Deaf Studies, the history of sign language, its value as one of the greatest philosophical and cultural legacies of the Enlightenment, and its subsequent significance in the arts and in society.

I welcome applications for postgraduate study in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, particularly (but not exclusively) relating to authors such as Rousseau, Diderot and L-S. Mercier, playwrights, theatre and dance, issues of language and style, of artistic aesthetics, as well as topics in the history of ideas, matters concerning the nature of the Enlightenment and Romantic movements, and Deaf Studies.


On 18c and 19c Dance and Mime

Mime, Music and Drama on the Eighteenth-century Stage: the Ballet d’Action (Cambridge University Press, 2011).

Sur Quel Pied Danser? Danse et littérature (Amsterdam and New York: Rodopi, 2005). 

‘The Pantomime repertoire of the Théâtre des Funambules’, in Nineteenth-century theatre and film, 43.1 (2016)

‘The Romantic Myth of Jean-Gaspard Deburau’, in Nineteenth-Century French Studies 44.1–2 (Fall–Winter 2015–16), pp. 46-64

‘Chiaroscuro in the Eighteenth-century Ballet d’action’, in Shadows of the Enlightenment: Chiaroscuro in early-modern France and Italy, a study in analogy and metaphorology, eds Marion Lafouge and Mark Darlow (Paris: Presses de l’École des Chartes, 2014)

‘Outrageous dancing and respectable Noverre’, in Jean-Georges Noverre 1727-1810: Lettres sur la Danse, and beyond, eds Jennifer Thorp and Michael Burden (New York: Pendragon, 2014), pp. 87-100

‘Jean-Gaspard Deburau: Romantic Pierrot’, in New Theatre Quarterly, XXX (2014), 107-119

‘L’Esthétique du corps dans le ballet d’action’, in Aux limites de l’imitation. L’ut pictura poesis à l’épreuve de la matière aux XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles, ed. Nathalie Kremer (Amsterdam and New York: Rodopi, 2009), 203-212

The Eighteenth-century Ballet-pantomime and Modern Mime’, New Theatre Quarterly, XXV (2009), 22-43

‘Dancing words: eighteenth-century ballet-pantomime wordbooks as paratexts’, Word and Image, 24 (4) (2008), 403-412

‘Choreography is narrative: the programmes of the eighteenth-century ballet d’action’, Dance Research, 26.1 (2008), 42-59

‘L’Allégorie dans le ballet d’action: Le témoignage des parodies de Marie Sallé’, Revue de l’histoire littéraire de France, 2008 (2), 289-309

‘Contemporary reactions to Jean-Georges Noverre’s ballets d’action’, SVEC, (2007:06), 31-45

‘Dramaturgie et musique dans le ballet-pantomime Médée et Jason de Noverre et Rodolphe’, co-author Fanny Thépot, Revue de l’histoire du théâtre, 4 (2007), 305-323

‘De la similitude du ballet-pantomime et de l’opéra à travers trois dialogues muets’, SVEC, (2005:06), 207-222

‘Le Petit-maître dansant et le caractère de la danse: les héritiers de La Bruyère au dix-huitième siècle’, in Sur Quel Pied Danser? Danse et littérature (Amsterdam and New York: Rodopi, 2005), 137-156

‘Grace II: Poetry and the choric analogy in eighteenth-century France’, in Sur Quel Pied Danser? Danse et literature (Amsterdam and New York: Rodopi, 2005), 107-135


On 18c literary aesthetics

Literary and Linguistic Theories in Eighteenth-century France: from Nuances to Impertinence (O.U.P. 2000), x, 250p.

‘Rationalist and sensationist aesthetics in eighteenth-century France’, in Inspiration and Technique. Ancient and Modern Views on Beauty and Art, John Roe and Michele Stanco (Bern: Peter Lang, 2007), 193-216

‘Eighteenth-century views of Racinian “harmonie poétique” ’, SVEC, (2005:08), 107-115

‘Modernity in Desfontaines’s translation of Joseph Andrews’, SVEC, (2000:04), 279-284

‘Bilboquet, calembours, and modernity’, SVEC, 08 (2000), 179-186


On the bicycle in literature

À Bicyclette, 2nd edition (Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 2000, 2013), xlvi, 417 pages, illustrated.

‘Joie de vivre and the Will to Win in the Literature of Cycling’, in Joie de vivre in French Literature and Culture; Essays in honour of Mike Freeman, ed. Susan Harrow, Tim Unwin (Amsterdam and New York: Rodopi, 2009), 255-268

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