Peter Brooks

Peter Brooks's picture
Professor Emeritus of Comparative Literature

Peter Brooks is Sterling Professor of Comparative Literature Emeritus. He was the Founding Director of Yale’s Whitney Humanities Center (1981-91), and served again as Director from 1996-2001. He also chaired the Departments of Comparative Literature and of French.  From 2003-2006, he was University Professor at the University of Virginia, and Director of the Program in Law and Humanities.  Following his retirement from Yale in 2009, he taught at Princeton University, where he directed a seminar on “The Ethics of Reading and the Cultures of Professionalism” at the University Center for Human Values. His teaching and publication have been mainly on the novel (largely French and English) and the theory of narrative; on psychoanalysis in relation to literature; and on law and the humanities. 

           Brooks received his BA and PhD from Harvard University, and studied also at the University of London and the University of Paris.  He served as a visiting professor at Harvard, the University of Texas, Austin, the University of Copenhagen, the University of Bologna, and the Georgetown University Law Center. During the 2001-2002 academic year, he was Eastman Professor at Oxford University, and Fellow of Balliol College.

       He was decorated Officier des Palmes Académiques in 1986; and in 1997 he received an honorary doctorate from the Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris; and in 2001 an MA from Oxford.   He has been a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences since 1991, was elected to the American Philosophical Society in 2003, and as Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy in 2010.  He was given the William C. DeVane Prize for Scholarship and Teaching in 2012, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Distinguished Achievement Award in 2008


B.A. (1959)  and Ph.D. (1965) Harvard University. He also studied at University College, London as a Marshall Scholar, and the University of Paris.

Publication Highlights

Flaubert in the Ruins of Paris.  Basic Books, 2017.…

Enigmas of Identity.  Princeton University Press, 2011; reprint 2013.

The Emperor’s Body (novel).   W.W. Norton, 2011.

Henry James Goes to Paris.  Princeton University Press, 2007; reprint 2008.

Realist Vision.   Yale University Press, 2005; reprint 2008; Italian translation:

         Lo Sguardo realista.  Carocci Editore, 2017.

Troubling Confessions. University of Chicago Press, 2000; reprint, 2001.

World Elsewhere (novel). Simon & Schuster, 1999.

Psychoanalysis and Storytelling.  Basil Blackwell, 1994; Turkish translation, 2015.

Body Work.  Harvard University Press, 1993; Korean translation, 2000;

         Chinese, 2005.

Reading for the Plot.  Alfred A. Knopf, 1984; reprint Vintage Books, 1985; reprint

         Harvard University Press, 1992; Italian translation:  Trame. Einaudi, 1995.

The Melodramatic Imagination.   Yale University Press, 1976; reprint Columbia

         University Press, 1985; reprint, with a new introduction, Yale University

         Press, 1995; Italian translation: L’Immaginazione melodrammatica. Pratiche,

         1984; Japanese translation, 2002; French: L’Imagination mélodramatique.

         Classiques Garnier, 2011; Korean, 2013.

The Novel of Worldliness.  Princeton University Press, 1969.


The Humanities and Public Life, with Hilary Jewett. Fordham University Press,


Honoré de Balzac, The Human Comedy: Selected Tales, edited with an Introduction

         by Peter Brooks. New York Review Books, 2014.

Anthologie du mélodrame Classique, with Myriam Faten Sfar. Classiques Garnier,


Dominique Vivant Denon, No Tomorrow (Point de lendemain), trans. Lydia Davis,

         Introduction by Peter Brooks.  New York Review Books, 2009.

Honoré de Balzac, Père Goriot, edited by Peter Brooks. Signet Classics, 2004.

Whose Freud?  The Place of Psychoanalysis in Contemporary Culture, with Alex Woloch.  Yale University Press, 2000.

Honoré de Balzac, Père Goriot, edited by Peter Brooks.  W. W. Norton, 1998.

Law’s Stories, with Paul Gewirtz.  Yale University Press, 1996.

“The Lesson of Paul de Man,” with Shoshana Felman and J. Hillis Miller. Yale

          French Studies  No. 69 (1986).

Henry James, The Wings of the Dove, edited with an Introduction and Notes by

         Peter Brooks. Oxford University Press, 1984.