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Marc Fumaroli

Collège de France
Culture and Religion

Christianity and its images: from acheiropoieta to photography


Officer of the Légion d'honneur
Commander of L'ordre national du Mérite
Commander of the Palmes Académiques
Commander of Arts and Letters
Honorable Academician of the Accademia Clementina
Honorable Academician of the Académie d'Aix-en-Provence
Member of the Accademia dei Lincei (1997)
Grand Officer of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Italy

Born in Marseilles on 10 June 1932, Marc Fumaroli spent his childhood and adolescence in Fès. His mother was his first teacher. He completed his secondary education and Baccalauréat in Letters at the Lycée Ville-Nouvelle in Fès. He completed his higher education at the Lycée Thiers in Marseilles, at the University of Aix-en-Provence and at the Sorbonne. He passed the Agrégation in Classical Letters in 1958. He did his military service at the École militaire interarmes de Cõetquidan and in the 6th Artillery Regiment in Colbert in the Constantinois between September 1958 and January 1961. He was pensionnaire of the Fondation Thiers from September 1963 to August 1966. He was elected assistant of the Faculty of Letters at Lille at his return in 1965, and Doctor of Letters at IV-Sorbonne in June 1976. During the same month he was elected master of conferences at the Paris IV-Sorbonne, succeeding Professor Raymond Picard. Director of the journal, XVIIe siècle (1976-1986) and member of the editorial board of the journal Commentaire (1978-1995), under the directorship of Raymond Aron until his death in 1983 and thereafter under that of Jean-Claude Casanova.

In 1986 Marc Fumaroli was elected professor of the Collège de France, to which he was presented by the poet Yves Bonnefoy and the historian Jean Delumeau, and was granted the chair entitled "Rhetoric and Society in Europe (16th-17th centuries)." In 1977 he participated in the foundation of the International Society for the History of Rhetoric, over which he presided between 1984 and 85, and organized the Third International Congress at Tours in the last-mentioned year. He served as director of Centre d'étude de la langue et de la literature françaises des XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles (Paris IV-C.N.R.S.) from 1984-1994. From 1993 to 1999, he was president of the Association pour la sauvegarde des enseignements littéraires (S.E.L.) founded by Mme. Jacqueline de Romilly. After 2000 he succeeded René Pomeau as president of the Society of Literary History of France. He has presided over the Association of the Friends of the Louvre since 1996. In October 2006 he succeeded the Lord Chancellor Gabriel de Broglie as the president of the Interministerial Commission of Technology.

He was a visiting professor at All Souls College, Oxford in 1983 and a visiting professor at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton in 1984. He has taught and delivered lectures in numerous universities in the United States (most notably at New York University, Columbia, Johns Hopkins, Harvard, Princeton, Houston, Los Angeles). Invited by Allan Bloom, he delivered a series of lectures in the division known as the Committee for Social Thought in Chicago of which he became a member, with the status of a professor of the university 'at large', where he teaches two months a year. He has been invited to lecture at the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., most notably in the Fifteenth Anniversary Lecture Series. He returned there in March-April 2000 to deliver the six Mellon Series Lectures of that year. He gave the Casal Lecture at the University of London and the Zaharoff Lecture at the University of Oxford in 1991. Each year in May he gives a series of lectures at the Istituto di Studi Filosofici founded and directed by M. Gerardo Marotta, and participates frequently in the congresses at the Cini Foundation in Venice. He has received invitations from most Italian universities. He received honorary doctorates from the University of Naples (Federico II) in 1994, from the University of Bologna in 1999, from the University of Genoa and the University Complutense in Madrid in 2004, and the University Complutense in Madrid in 2005, and his courses at the Collège de France have twice been given in Italian universities: the University of Rome in 1995-1996; and the Scuola normale superiore in Pisa in 1999-2000. Since his youth he has considered Italy his second homeland, and is proud of counting among his innumerable friends there, Professor Tullio Gregory, Director of the Institute of Philosophy at the University of Rome - la Sapienza. He is a member of numerous learned societies in France and abroad. He is an associate member of the British Academy, member of the American Academy of Science, Letters and Arts, member of the American Philosophical Society of Philadelphia, member of the Accademia dei Lincei (since 1997), and he is president of the Société littéraire de la France, and a frequent collaborator in the Revue. He regularly contributes articles to daily and weekly newspapers in France and abroad. In 1982 he received the Monsieur Marcel prize from the Académie française and in 1992 its Critique award. He received the Balzan prize in September 2001, the Lafue prize in 2002, and the Mémorial and Combourg prizes in 2004.

On March 2nd 1995 the Académie française elected him to the sixth chair, in which he succeeded Eugène Ionesco. In 1998 he was elected to the Académie des inscriptions et belles-lettres in the chair left vacant by Georges Duby.