Peter Vantine Director, First-Year Seminar Program; Chair and Associate Professor of Classical and Modern Languages and Literature: French



M.A., Ph.D. University of Wisconsin-Madison
DEA Université de Genève (Switzerland)
B.A. Amherst College

I joined Saint Michael’s College in the Fall 2011 semester.  I have taught at The University of Saint Thomas (MN), Macalester College (MN), and Indiana University.  I have lived in Paris and Dijon, France, as well as in Geneva, Switzerland.  Among other scholarly projects, I am working on a book tentatively titled Entre fantaisie et réalisme: texte, contexte et métatexte dans les premiers romans et les nouvelles des frères Goncourt (Between Fantasy and Realism: Text, Context, and Metatext in the Early Novels and Stories of the Goncourt Brothers).



Areas of Expertise:

Nineteenth-century French literature (poetry, theater, novels) and culture, particularly print and visual culture.


Courses I Teach:

  • First-Year Seminar: The Examined Life
  • First, Second, Third, and Fourth Semester French (Beginning and Intermediate French)
  • Advanced Conversation
  • Advanced Grammar and Composition
  • Topics in French Culture: French Humor; Paris – City of Shadow, City of Light
  • Topics in French Literature: The French Novel; The Nineteenth-Century French Novel



Having myself chosen to attend a small liberal-arts college as an undergraduate, I believe deeply in the value of a closely-knit academic community in which professors are wholly engaged in the life of the college, and in which learning thrives within and beyond the walls of the classroom. In addition to helping students acquire concrete language skills and analytical abilities at all course levels, I strive to share my enthusiasm for and insights about French language, culture, and literature.

While my research on nineteenth-century French literature always informs my courses on that particular historical period, more generally my scholarly endeavors feed my own intellectual curiosity, passion, and critical judgment, which I then hope to inspire in my students. Furthermore, I attempt to remain up to date with work on foreign language acquisition and pedagogy, while also sharing my own experiences with colleagues both informally and at conferences.  I believe that excellent teaching is always a work in progress, a constant process of renewing, reworking, and refining one’s practices.  Students, in turn, are not only the targets of such efforts but are also sources of invaluable feedback about how to improve them.


“La Fantaisie, la métatextualité et la mort de l’artiste dans En 18….” in Cahiers Edmond et Jules de Goncourt 16 (2009); “‘Riez, riez, vous penserez plus tard!’: le comique et le métacomique de Jean-Luc Lagarce” in Problématique d’une oeuvre I. Colloque de Strasbourg (2007).

Book Reviews: Forthcoming review of La Fille Élisa by Edmond de Goncourt, Ed. David Baguley, in Nineteenth-Century French Studies; review of Correspondance générale.  Tome I (1843-1862), by Edmond et Jules de Goncourt, Ed. Pierre-Jean Dufief, in Nineteenth-Century French Studies (online reviews, 2010).

Conferences: Modern Language Association (2012), New England Modern Language Association (2012), Colloquium on the Goncourts’ Journal (2011, Paris), Nineteenth-Century French Studies Colloquium (2011).


Life Off Campus:

As a native of Minneapolis, MN, I am fond of the snow and the cold, but am glad to now combine them with mountains. I enjoy hiking, biking, and traveling.

Recent News

Peter Vantine, director of the First-Year Seminar Program and chair and associate professor of classical and modern languages and literature: French, was presented one of three major annual faculty awards, the Norbert A. Kuntz Service Award, during the annual Academic Convocation, which was a virtual online event this year because of the pandemic.
(posted February 2021)

Peter Vantine, director, First-Year Seminar Program and chair and associate professor of classical and modern languages and literature: French, and Laurence Clerfeuille, associate professor of classical and modern languages and Literature: French, this year again organized The Tournees French Film Festival on campus during the Fall Semester 2018
(posted January 2019)