Deborah Harter

Research Areas

19th-Century Fiction • Literary Theory • Gender and the Body • Literature and Psychoanalysis

Deborah Harter earned her Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of California at Berkeley, spent two years at the University of Chicago as a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow, and then joined Rice University. At Rice she is also affiliated with the Center for the Study of Women, Gender, and Sexuality, the Program in Medical Humanities, and the Moody Center for the Arts. She has been awarded fellowships from the American Comparative Literature Association and the American Association of University Women. She served as Deputy Speaker and then Speaker of the Rice Faculty Senate at its inception. And she has won over a dozen awards in teaching and mentoring students, including the Phi Beta Kappa Teaching Prize, the George R. Brown Prize for Superior Teaching, the Alison Sarofim Distinguished Teaching Professor in the Humanities Award, the Faculty Mentor of the Year Award, and the Impact Award for Contributions to Women at Rice. 

Harter’s book, Bodies in Pieces: Fantastic Narrative and the Poetics of the Fragment (1996), suggests a complex relation between realist and fantastic narrative of the nineteenth century, the one anxious to narrate an ever-exploding world of fragments, the other looking to find in the fragment an otherwise illusive wholeness. Currently, she is working to complete a second book project on The Art of Failure: Creative Impossibilities from Balzac to Silence of the Lambs, and she has just finished a non-scholarly manuscript, On the Subject of Kissing Hairy Creatures, and Other Essays about Things that Matter.


Selected Publications

Bodies in Pieces: Fantastic Narrative and the Poetics of the Fragment (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1996).

“Betİmsel Kirilmanin Erotigi: Balzac’in 'Bilinmeyen Şaheser’İne Işik Tutmak' (= “The Erotics of Descriptive Shattering:  Balzac’s ‘Chef-d’œuvre inconnu’)", in Honoré de Balzac, Bilinmeyen Saheser (Istanbul: Iletisim Yayiniari, 2013), 19-38. 

“Balancing Acts: French Studies in the Graduate and Undergraduate Classroom,” Charles J. Stivale (ed.), Modern French Literary Studies: Pedagogical Strategies (New York: Modern Lamguage Association of America, 2004), 198-207.

“Medievalism in Flaubert,” in Laurence M. Porter (ed.), A Gustave Flaubert Encyclopedia (London: Greenwood Press, 2001), 922-4.

“Baudelaire and the Poetics of Perversity,” in Laurence Porter (ed.), Approaches to Teaching Baudelaire’s “Fleurs du Mal”, (New York: Modern Language Association of America, 1999), 108-15.

“Silenced by the City: Maupassant’s Flâneur and Uneasy Dreams,” in Clayton Koelb and Raymond Prier (eds.), Narrative Ironies (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1997), 181-91.

“Divided Selves, Ironic Counterparts: Intertextual Doubling in Baudelaire’s ‘L’Héautontimorouménos’ and Poe’s ‘The Haunted Palace,’” Comparative Literature Studies 26 (1989), 28-38.

“From Represented to Literal Space: Fantastic Narrative & the Body in Pieces,” L’Esprit créateur 28 (1988), 23-35.

“The Artist on Trial: Kafka and ‘Josefine, die Sängerin,’” Deutsche Vierteljahrsschrift für Literaturwissenschaft und Geistesgeschichte 61 (1987), 3-14.