Antonia Szabari

Associate Professor of French and Comparative Literature
Antonia Szabari
Email Office THH 155B

Research & Practice Areas

I am a scholar of early modern French and European culture. My first book, Less Rightly Said: Scandals and Readers in Sixteenth Century France (Stanford, 2010) traces the rise of a political genre in the literature of vituperation during the religious wars of early modern France. I focus on the function rather than the form of satire to show that insulting humor was a tool for vying for the power in the hands of various social groups. This project was supported with a fellowship at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies at Harvard.

My second book “Radical Botany: Plants and Speculative Fiction from Early to Late Modernity” (Fordham, 2019), co-authored with Natania Meeker, is study of a tradition of speculative botany through literary and popular scientific texts, cinema, and art. The book explores especially the gains feminism, queer art and advocacy, and postumanist new materialist thought is to make from the speculative experiment of seeing ourselves as vegetal. Radical Botany received the 2019 Science Fiction and Technoculture Studies Book Prize.

I have recently completed a third book “Agents without Empire: Mobility and Race-Making in Sixteenth Century France” (Fordham, 2024). The book argues that before the onset of French colonialism, it was in perceptions of the Ottoman Empire where modern, postmedieval categories of race were first cast in early modern France. Here I examine old materialisms whose explorations beyond the boundaries of the human often resulted in race making. This project was supported by a USC Early Modern Studies Institute Fellowship. Before writing the book, in 2012, I co-curated the exhibition “French Travelers to the East” with Catherine Hess at the Huntington Art Collections.


  • Ph.D. , Johns Hopkins University, 2005
  • Tenure Track Appointments

    • Associate Professor, University of Southern California, 05/13/2010 –
  • Summary Statement of Research Interests

    My research and writing span early modern studies, ecocriticism, plant and animal studies, and gender.

    Research Keywords

    early modern literature in France and Europe, history of botany, natural history, vegetal ontologies, speculative fiction, interspecies ethics, and the political potential of real and literary plants and animals

  • Conference Presentations

    • Radical Botany-Tendrilesque Writing. Lecture & Discussion with Natania Meeker, Gosie Vervloessem, and others. , “More Than Human Encounters” October 19, 2021Keynote Lecture, Invited, KAAI Theater, Brussels, Fall 2021
  • Book

    • Szabari, A. (2022). Agents without Empire: Mobility and Race-Making in Sixteenth-Century France. Fordham University Press, forthcoming Spring 2024.
    • Szabari, A., Meeker, N. (2019). Radical Botany: Plants and Speculative Fiction from Early to Late Modernity. Winner of the 2019 Science Fiction & Technoculture Studies book prize. Fordham University Press.
    • Szabari, A. (2010). Less Rightly Said: Scandals and Readers in Sixteenth-Century France. Stanford University Press.

    Book Chapters

    • Szabari, A. (2020). From Panurge to Pan: Rabelais’s Fictions of Undiplomatic Diplomacy and the Ambassador’s Pleasure. Obscene Means: The Politics of Obscenity at the Age of the Gutenberg Revolution.
    • Szabari, A. (2020). Futures of Plant-Human Mutualism: Science, Technology, and Speculative Fiction. Ecologies of Gender: Contemporary Nature Relations and the Nonhuman Turn.
    • Szabari, A. (2020). Montaigne’s Plants in Movement. Early Modern Écologies:Beyond English Ecocriticism Amsterdam University Press.
    • Szabari, A., Meeker, N. (2018). “Une artiste en résidence dans le monde des fleurs: L’art botanique de Madeleine Françoise Basseporte.”. pp. 157-188. Savoirs, identités et représentations des femmes à l’époque moderne: Autoportrait, autofictions XVIe-XVIIIe siècles.
    • Szabari, A., Meeker, N. (2017). “Gender and Sexuality in Botanical Contexts.”. Gender: Matter pp. 153-169. Macmillan Interdisciplinary Handbooks: Gender. Ed. Renée C. Hoogland..
    • Szabari, A. (2015). Our Future Barbarism: Sacrifice, The Body, and Performance in Robert Garnier’s Greek Tragedies. Forthcoming in French Renaissance and Baroque Drama: Text, Performance, Theory. Ed. Michael Merre. pp. 117-138. University of Deleware Press.
    • Szabari, A. (2014). “Malaise in Music: French Hip Hop on Trial” in “Paul and the Philosophers”. Fordham University Press.
    • Szabari, A. (2009). “‘La Plume de fer’: vers une esthétique de l’impact chez Ronsard” in Ronsard poète militant: Les Discours des Misères de ce temps. pp. 92-108. Paris.
    • Szabari, A. (2006). The Scandal of Religion: Luther and Public Speech. pp. 122-136. New York: Political Theologies/Fordham University Press.


    • Szabari, A., Meeker, N. (2020). “Becoming Still”. Netherlands. STRP. Click here for “Becoming Still”
    • Szabari, A., Meeker, N. (2015). “Collective Intimacies: Feeling like a Bee,” catalogue essay for Jessica Rath, A Better Nectar, University Art Museum, California State University, Long Beach. January 27-April 12, 2015.
    • Szabari, A., Meeker, N. (2014). “Who Will Remember US: Plants and the Archive.” Review of Dornith Doherty, ‘Archiving Eden: The Vaults,’ 2008-present and Jessica Rath, ‘take me to the apple breeder,’ Pasadena Museum of California Art, 2012. Oxford Literary Review.
    • Szabari, A. (2012). “Strawberries on Life Support.” L.A. Review of Books (January, 2012). Review of Jane Bennett, Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things (Durham: Duke University Press, 2010) and Timothy Morton, The Ecological Thought (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2010). Los Angeles Review of Books.

    Journal Article

    • Szabari, Antónia, Natania Meeker (Ed.). (2022). Libertine Botany. L’Esprit Créateur. Vol. 62 (4)
    • Szabari, A., Meeker, N. (2022). Libertine Botany: Plant-Human Mutualism, Early Modern to Modern. L’Esprit créateur. Vol. 62 (4), pp. 1-10.
    • Szabari, A., Meeker, N. (2018). Libertine Botany: Vegetal Sexuality, Vegetal Form. postmedieval: a journal of medieval cultural studies. pp. 474-489.
    • Szabari, A., Meeker, N. (2018). The Horrors and Pleasures of Plants Today: Vegetal Ontology and Stranger Things. B2o: An Online Journal.
    • Szabari, A. (2016). “The Ambassador, the Spy, and the Deli: Self-Representation and Anti-Diplomacy in Nicolas de Nicolay’s Navigations”. Modern Language Notes. pp. 1012-1022.
    • Szabari, A. (2015). The Crescent Moon and the Orb: Political Allegory and Cosmographic Detour in Gabriel Bounin’s La Soltane. French Forum. Vol. 40 (2-3), pp. 1-16.
    • Szabari, A., Meeker, N. (2012). From the Century of the Pods to the Century of the Plants: Plant Horror, Politics, and Vegetal Ontology. Discourse. Vol. 34 (1)
    • Szabari, A. (2008). The Way of Imperfection: Laughter and Mysticism in Marguerite de Navarre’s Heptameron. French Forum. Vol. 33 (3), pp. 1-16.
    • Provost’s Fellowship for Advancing Scholarship in the Humanities and Social Sciences, USC, 2010-2011
    • Huntington Library Research Fellowship Recipient, USC-Huntington, EMSI faculty fellowship, Spring 2011
    • Radcliffe Institute, Bunting Fellow, 2006-2007
    • USC Innovative Teaching Award, Awarded for the development of course on secularization and secularism in France and the US , 2006-2007
    • USC Zumberge Research and Innovation Fund Award, Individual Research Grant, 2005-2006
  • Administrative Appointments

    • Director (interim), Program in Comparative Studies in Literatures and Cultures, Fall 2021
  • Conferences Organized

    • organizer, Early Modern French Diplomacy and Theater, University of Southern California, Fall 2016
    • organizer, Portraits of the Traveler, Huntington Library , Spring 2012
    • organizer, Modern Language Association, Annual Conference, Philadelphia, Fall 2009
    • organizer, respondent, The Memory of Religious Troubles in Sixteenth-Century France, Renaissance Society of America, panel, 2007-2008
    • co-organizer, The Spiritual Life of Plants, Huntington Library, Can Marino, CA, Spring 2008

    Professional Memberships

    • Sixteenth-Century Studies, 2010 – 2011
    • Renaissance Society of America, 2006 – 2011
    • Modern Language Association, 2002 – 2011

    Other Service to the Profession

    • “Portraits of the Traveler,” Exhibit, Co-curator, Huntington Art Collections, 2011-2012