Skip to main content

Hélène Visentin

Associate Dean of the Faculty and Dean for Academic Development; Professor of French Studies

Helene Visentin


College Hall 206


Hélène Visentin teaches courses on language and culture, Paris as a cultural capital, French intellectuals and social networking in early modern France. Her teaching approach fosters historical, critical and intercultural thinking.

Visentin’s research specializes in early modern literature and culture, with a focus on the history and aesthetics of the performing arts, and the relationships between art and power. With a keen interest in the field of digital humanities, she is interested in how new technologies, especially mapping and data visualization techniques, pose new questions and provide cutting-edge approaches to scholarship and teaching. In that regard, she developed a digital pedagogical edition of Lafayette’s La Princesse de Clèves (1678) with three colleagues from other liberal arts colleges. The edition offers a rich variety of pedagogical dossiers with a wide range of resources and approaches for teaching and exploring this seminal novel in twenty-first century courses.

She has taught at the Institut d’Avignon (France) under the auspices of Bryn Mawr College (summers 2016 and 2019), and she is a member of the advisory board. She has also directed Smith Programs Abroad in Paris (2006–07 and spring 2012) and Geneva (2007–08).

Visentin is currently serving as associate dean of the faculty and dean for academic development. In that capacity, she works with the faculty to shape the undergraduate and graduate curriculum and to advance their professional development through all stages of their careers.

Selected Publications

Hélène E. Bilis, Jean-Vincent Blanchard, David Harrison, and Hélène Visentin. La Princesse De Clèves by Lafayette: A New Translation and Bilingual Pedagogical Edition for the Digital Age. Ann Arbor, MI: Lever Press, 2022. EPUB.

“Légitimation du théâtre à machines et transfert du savoir technique (1630-1650).” Littératures classiques 105 (2021): 29-40.

“Turning to Seventeenth-Century Machine Theater to Teach Tragedy.” In Teaching French Neoclassical Tragedy. Eds H. Bilis and E. McClure. New York: The Modern Language Association of America, 2021. 172-186.

“Machine Plays.” The Oxford Handbook of the Baroque. Ed. John D. Lyons. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019. 386-408. Oxford Handbooks Online. Literature, literary studies. 2019. Oxford University Press. 26 p.

“Transferts culturels et innovation artistique à Rouen: le motif du char triomphal dans l’entrée de Henri II en 1550.” In La Renaissance à Rouen. L’essor artistique et culturel dans la Normandie des décennies 1480-1530. Eds X. Bonnier, G. Milhe Poutingon et S. Provini. Rouen: Presses universitaires de Rouen et du Havre, 2019. 223-239.

“La pratique des tableaux vivants dans les entrées royales à la Renaissance.” In Le Tableau vivant ou l’image performée. Ed. J. Ramos, with the collaboration of Léonard Pouy. Paris: Mare&Martin, Institut National d’Histoire de l’Art, 2014. 53–68.

“‘Ce grand bastiment neuf et vieux’: The Louvre Towards Political, Social and Urban Transformations in the Grand Siècle.” L’Esprit Créateur 54, No. 2 (Summer 2014): 45–62.

“The Material Form and the Function of Printed Accounts of Henri II’s Triumphal Entries (1547-51).” In Writing Royal Entries in Early Modern Europe. Eds M.-C. Canova-Green, J. Andrews, with M.-F. Wagner. Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols Publishers, 2013. 1-30.

“Au cœur d’une mutation socio-politique et esthétique de l’art dramatique en France: le théâtre à machines à la Cour et à la Ville (1630-1650).” In Rome-Paris, 1640. Transferts culturels et renaissance d’un centre artistique. Dir. Marc Bayard. Rome: Collection d’histoire de l’art de l’Académie de France à Rome, Villa Médicis, 2010. 509-520.

French Ceremonial Entries in the Sixteenth Century: Event, Image, Text. Eds. Nicolas Russell and Hélène Visentin. Toronto: Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies, 2008.

L'Invraisemblance du pouvoir. Mises en scène de la souveraineté au XVIIe siècle. Eds. Jean-Vincent Blanchard and Hélène Visentin. Paris: Schena Editore/Presses de l'Université de Paris-Sorbonne, 2005.

Les Sosies, comédie (1638) de Jean Rotrou. Paris: Société des Textes Français Modernes, 2005.

Office Hours

No formal office hours, but students can contact Patty Tran to schedule an appointment.


Doctorat, Université de Paris-Sorbonne
Diplôme d’Études Approfondies, Université de la Sorbonne Nouvelle
B.A., M.A., University of Montreal

Selected Works in Smith ScholarWorks