Jack I. Abecassis

Edwin Sexton & Edna Patrick Smith Modern European Languages Professor and Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures
With Pomona Since: 1990
  • Expertise


    Jack I. Abecassis is an expert on Early Modern and Enlightenment French intellectual history. He has written extensively on philosophical aspects of French literature and philosophy, especially on the Renaissance thinker and essayist Michel de Montaigne. He authored a book about the novelist Albert Cohen (1895-1982), titled Albert Cohen: Dissonant Voices. He is currently exploring the intersection of literature, cinema and the neuro-cognitive sciences, an extension of his earlier interests in the psychosomatic, cognitive and perceptual aspects in Montaigne, Pascal, Diderot, and the French phenomenologist, Maurice Merleau-Ponty. He currently teaches courses both in French literature and in the Department of Linguistics and Cognitive Sciences.

    Research Interests

    • Michel de Montaigne
    • Albert Cohen
    • Cognitive approaches to film, literature and translation theory

    Areas of Expertise


    • Early modern and Enlightenment French literature
    • Cognitive approaches to film, literature and translation theory
    • Albert Cohen
    • Contemporary Jewish and Israeli novels
    • The fantastic genre
    • Psycho-Narrative
  • Work


    Book: Albert Cohen, Dissonant Voices (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, November 2004)

    “Empathy and Contagion in Montaigne, a Neuro-Cognitive Revision” in Montaigne Studies, Vol. XXX, 2018 (forthcoming)

    "Randomness and Narrativity: A Cognitive Reassessment of Fortune and Nonsense in Montaigne’s Essais” in Modern Language Notes, Vol 132, No. 2, 2017 (forthcoming)

    “Montaigne's medieval nominalism and Meschonnic’s ethics of the subject” in Rethinking the New Medievalism (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013)

    “Mangeclous et Moishe Pipik: Albert Cohen, Philip Roth et le problématique dédoublement juif” in Cahiers Albert Cohen, No. 22, 2012, 41-66.

    “Le Passeport” in Atelier du Roman, Flammarion (Paris), No. 60, Dec. 2009, 47-57.

    “Thinking about Maupassant’s Le Horla problematically” in Revue Internationale de Philosophie, 242.4, Dec. 2007, 391-413.

    “Albert Cohen, nihiliste juif?” in Perspectives (Hebrew University, Jerusalem), 12, 2005, 87-99.

    "The Eclipse of Desire: L'Affaire Houellebecq" (Review Essay), Modern Language Notes, September 2000, 115. 4, 801-27. 

  • Education


    Université de Paris IV, Sorbonne

    University of California, Davis

    Recent Courses Taught

    • Intro to French Lit Analysis
    • Le Fantastique
    • Philosophes, Paradoxes of Nature
    • Topics in Thought & Cognition
    • Lit, Cinema & the Cognitive Sciences
  • Awards & Honors

    Awards & Honors

    Modern Language Association
    Honorable Mention for the Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione Prize for French and Francophone Studies, for Albert Cohen, Dissonant Voices 2005