Dr. David M. Posner

Department of French Language and Literature, Loyola University Chicago

Title and Précis:

Julian the Apostate, Democrat: Montaigne, LĂ©vinas, and the Otherness of Democracy

     This project will explore themes of democracy, otherness, and religious toleration in the works of the Renaissance essayist Michel de Montaigne and the 20th-century philosopher Emmanuel Lévinas.  Through close readings and analysis of these authors’ works and related texts, the project will examine how the Other constitutes the starting point for all possible right action, personal or civil, and may indeed be prior to all other philosophical questions.  The authors’ shared emphasis on lived human experience will help to illuminate the possibilities of actual and potential democratic societies in the modern world, a world in which democracy is simultaneously sought and challenged, demanded and decried, by ever greater numbers of people living in an ever greater range of cultures.


     David M. Posner is a native of northern California and was educated at Stanford and Princeton, with stints at the Sorbonne, the Freie Universität Berlin, and the École Normale Supérieure.  He has taught French and comparative literature at Loyola University Chicago since 1990.  His research and teaching specializations include renaissance and 17th-century European literature, renaissance receptions of classical antiquity, modern and contemporary Francophone African literatures, and the intersections between literature and philosophy.  He is also the Executive Director of the Midwest Modern Language Association.