Harriet Stone

​Professor of French and Comparative Literature
PhD, Brown University
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    • Washington University
    • CB 1077
    • One Brookings Drive
    • St. Louis, MO 63130-4899
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    ​Professor Stone’s research interests focus on seventeenth-century French court culture, including interdisciplinary studies on art and literature, science and literature, and the formation of knowledge. Her research focuses on interconnections between texts and paintings at Versailles under Louis XIV and also in the Dutch Republic.

    Examining the court's promotion of the Sun King, the role of art and the artist, and the activities of the middle class, she extends the notion of seventeenth-century culture beyond France's nobility to the French bourgeois and the thriving merchant class in Holland depicted by Vermeer and his contemporaries. Her current research concerns the miniature as a thought experiment that extends from the seventeenth century through the present.

    Prof. Stone's books include Crowning Glories: Netherlandish Realism and the French Imagination during the Reign of Louis XIV (Toronto: U of Toronto P, 2019); Tables of Knowledge: Descartes in Vermeer's Studio (Ithaca: Cornell UP, 2006), The Classical Model: Literature and Knowledge in Seventeenth-Century France (Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1996), and Royal DisClosure: Problematics of Representation in French Classical Tragedy (Birmingham: Summa Publications, 1987). In addition, she served as co-translator with Gerhild Scholz Williams of Pierre de Lancre, On the Inconstancy of Witches (1612) (Tempe: Arizona Center of Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2006). She also edited Racine: A Tricentennial Issue. Esprit Créateur 38.2 (Summer 1998).

    Prof. Stone's seminars examine the plays of Corneille, Racine, and Molière as they relate to questions of power and propaganda; public and private lives in seventeenth-century fiction and history; Paris in literature, film, and photography; and other interdisciplinary topics within French Studies that integrate literature, art, history, and philosophy. She regularly teaches in the Comparative Literature program, offering courses on the city, including "At Home in Paris, Versailles, and Amsterdam" and "Paris and New York," and the arts.

    Tables of Knowledge: Descartes in Vermeer's Studio

    Tables of Knowledge: Descartes in Vermeer's Studio

    Descartes believed that his analytic model applied to all fields of research and that all branches of science lead to truth. His many analogies with literature and art notwithstanding, Descartes offers an entry into knowledge that fails nevertheless to take into account how in the seventeenth century Dutch painters such as Vermeer similarly order a view of the world by concentrating on the properties of individual objects. Descartes's celebrated scientific method offers a protocol for conducting experiments; Harriet Stone argues that this method can also serve as a guide for classifying the findings obtained from experiments. Tables of Knowledge shows that Dutch genre paintings and still lifes enact in visual form a process of recording information similar to that of science, with intriguing results