portrait of Kieran Murphy
Assistant Professor

HUMN 333

Monday 11:00am - 12:00pm; Friday 11:00am - 12:00pm; Or by appointment


  • Nineteenth century
  • Haiti
  • Science and Literature


Professor Murphy is a native of Paris. After passing the Baccalaureat, he moved to the US to study engineering and fine arts at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. Later, while completing his MFA at Vermont College of Fine Arts, he developed a strong interest in contemporary debates concerning the social and intellectual function of artistic productions in the modern world. He pursued this interest further as a doctoral student in Comparative Literature at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he specialized in French literature and philosophy, Haitian culture and the interactions between literature and science. Before coming to Boulder he taught in the Department of French and Italian at Dartmouth College.

Professor Murphy’s research has appeared in Contemporary French and Francophone Studies/Sites, Substance, Epistemocritique and artUS. As a contribution to the history of ideas and to the ongoing need to bridge disciplines, his first book manuscript explores the cultural and scientific context surrounding the emergence of the electromagnetic age during the 19th c. The Society for Literature, Science and the Arts recently awarded him its 2012 Schachterle Essay Prize.

He is on the editorial board of Epistemocritique and a member of Erlangen University Center for Literature and Natural Science.


  • “The Occult Atlantic: Franklin, Mesmer, and the Haitian Roots of Modernity.”  Forthcoming in America and the Haitian Revolution: Essays on the Cultural History of Atlantic Colonialism and Modernity.  (Ed. Elizabeth Maddock Dillon and Michael J. Drexler).  Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016.
  •  “Induction after Electromagnetism.”  Forthcoming in Physics and Literature.  Berlin: De Gruyter Publishing House, 2016.

Book Maunscripts

  • The Art and Science of the Electromagnetic Age. Under consideration at a university press.
  • Science after the Haitian Revolution. In progress.


  • “Electromagnetic Thought in Balzac, Villiers de Isle-Adam and Josephy Breuer” Substance 40.2 (2011): 127-147.
  • “Le Magnetisme, la grande chaine des etres et l’animal electromagnetique”  Epistemocritique: revue de la litterature et des savoirs. 7(2011).
  • “White Zombie”  Contemporary French and Francophone Studies/Sites. 15.1 (2011): 47-55. (Special issue on North America and the Caribbean, Ed. Alec Hargreaves and Martin Munro).
  • “Catastrophe Preparedness: ‘Eight Years Later'”. art US. 26 (2008): 8-13.
  • “Magic and Mesmerism in Saint Domingue” Paroles Gelees: UCLA French Studies 24 (2008): 31-48.

Book Review

  • “Beyond Enlightenment: Occultism and Politics in Modern France.” Nineteenth Century French Studies 35.2 (2007) 471-473.