Antonia Szabari

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

Research & Practice Areas

My research and writing are centered around the literary in its relation with the political — including literature’s emancipatory potential. In recent years, I have also been working in the Environmental Humanities, where I am especially interested in transhistoric connections and ecological perspectives. My first book, Less Rightly Said: Scandals and Readers in Sixteenth Century France (Stanford UP, 2010) is a study of satirical pamphlets published during the religious wars of sixteenth century France. It traces the vying of different social groups, including Catholics, Protestants, and Royalists, for power over printed words and argues that linguistic transgression, humor, and the over-the-top gestures of ridiculing the adversary also created powerful fictions of liberation from social institutions that failed to mediate between different social groups.

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 claims that modernity has been shaped by the discovery of life as vegetal and traces the implications of this insight for literature, cinema, and art. It explores especially the gains feminism, queer art and advocacy, and postumanist ecological thought is to make from the speculative experiment of seeing ourselves as vegetal.

I have recently completed a third book “Agents without Empire: Mobility and Race in Sixteenth Century France.” 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. The Ottoman Empire became suddenly accessible for select French “agents,” uninstitutionalized or minor diplomatic actors who served the French crown in its alliance with the Sublime Porte, and the book forges connections between the writings of these agents and canonical works of French literature for a critical study of race in sixteenth century France. How is the empowered individual of Humanism turned into a racially defined subject? What is race in precolonial France? How do East-West relations in early modern France become overcoded with agency and race? “Agents without Empire,” forthcoming from Fordham University Press in Spring 2024, seeks answers to these questions.


  • 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 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: Race and Agency 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 Chapter

    • 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
    • USC-Huntington, EMSI faculty fellowship, Spring 2011
    • USC-Huntington EMSI Faculty Fellowship, Spring 2011
    • Radcliffe Institute, Fellow, 2006-2007
    • Awarded for the development of course on secularization and secularism in France and the US , 2006-2007
    • Individual Research Grant, 2005-2006
  • Administrative Appointments

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