Fonds 1608 - Peter W. Nesselroth fonds

Identity area

Reference code

UTA 1608


Peter W. Nesselroth fonds


  • 1958-2015; predominant 1980-2010 (Creation)

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4.2 m of textual records (6 boxes)
11 photographs

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Name of creator


Biographical history

Peter William Nesselroth, Professor Emeritus of the University of Toronto, was a Professor of French and Comparative Literature who taught courses on French and Surrealist literature between his appointment in 1969 and his retirement in 1998. His main research interests are 19th and 20th century French and American literature, Dadaism and Surrealism in painting, poetry and film, and structuralism and post-structuralism as both theory and methodology. Nesselroth has researched and written extensively about these subjects throughout his academic career.

Born in the United States in 1935, Peter Nesselroth received his B.A. in Romance Languages from the City College of New York in 1957. He received his M.A. (1958) and Ph.D. (1968) in French and Romance Philology from Columbia University, New York. The title of his M.A. thesis was “Adolphe et Cécile de Benjamin Constant” and that of his Ph.D. thesis was “Lautréamont’s Imagery: a stylistic approach”.

Peter Nesselroth was appointed to the Department of French at the University of Toronto as an Assistant Professor in 1969, and was cross-appointed to the Centre of Comparative Literature in 1977, after having been a lecturer (1958) and then Assistant Professor (1968) at the City College of New York. He became an Associate Professor in 1970 and a Professor in 1979. Professor Nesselroth was the Director for the Centre for Comparative Literature from 1983 to 1997, being reappointed in both 1989 and 1995. Upon retirement he became Professor Emeritus in 1998 and a Senior Fellow for the Centre for Comparative Literature. In 1998, Professor Nesselroth was also a Visiting Professor at the Université Paris 7 – Denis Diderot, as well as receiving from the French government the title of Chevalier de l’Ordre des Palmes académiques. In 2003, he was at the Camargo Foundation in Cassis, France for a research fellowship. Professor Nesselroth became a Senior Fellow of Massey College in 2010.

Over his career as a Professor, he has taught several courses in French and Surrealist literature, with a focus on the 19th and 20th century, and figures such as Isidore Ducasse (Comte de Lautréamont), Jacques Derrida, and Marshall McLuhan.

Professor Nesselroth has researched and written extensively on 19th and 20th century French and Surrealist literature, having had numerous articles published in scholarly journals and books throughout his academic career. He is the author of "Lautréamont’s Imagery: a stylistic approach" (Genève: Droz, 1969); "Problems of Textual Analysis" (Paris: Didier, 1971); and "Psychanalyse et langages littéraires" (Paris: Nathan, 1977). While at the Camargo Foundation in Cassis, he wrote the manuscript for a book “Reading Problems: Making Sense of Difficult Texts”. He has also written numerous articles and given several addresses on Isidore Ducasse, Jacques Derrida, and Surrealist texts.

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Scope and content

Personal records of Professor Peter W. Nesselroth, documenting his career as a professor of French literature for the Centre of Comparative Literature at the University of Toronto and his published academic work on subjects covering French literature, Isidore Ducasse, Surrealism, literary theory, semiotics and psychoanalytics. The emphasis is on his academic writing from the 1970s through to the 2010s, with Isidore Ducasse (Lautréamont) and Jacques Derrida figuring prominently as subjects. Academic honours and teaching material for graduate courses at the University of Toronto and professional correspondence are also included.

Included are Professor Nesselroth’s MA and PhD theses, correspondence, course readings lists and syllabi, drafts and off-prints of academic articles, drafts of addresses, conference programs and photographs.

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The fonds is organized into series and files based upon the binders and file folders used to house the material when it first arrived at the archives.

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Finding aid created by Zoe Weber, May 2016
Added to AtoM by E. Sommers, Feb. 2018




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