Show The Graduate Center Menu

Mary Ann Caws
Position: Distinguished Professor Emerita, Comparative Literature, English, French; Film Faculty
Phone: 212-817-8371
Degrees/Diplomas: Ph.D., University of Kansas
Research Interests: Art and Text, Contemporary Poetry and Poetics, Modern French Literature, Surrealism, Translation, English Modernism, especially Bloomsbury, American Southern, Women's Writing and Memoirs, Film Studies

Distinguished Professor of English, French, and Comparative Literature of CUNY, Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, recipient of Guggenheim, Fulbright, National Endowment for the Humanities, Getty, and Rockefeller (Bellagio) Fellowships. Past president of the Modern Language Association, the American Comparative Literature Association, the Association for the Study of Dada and Surrealism, the Academy of Literary Studies. Past appointments at Hunter College, CUNY, Sarah Lawrence College, Princeton University, School of Visual Arts, the University of Paris, Jussieu, the School of Literary Criticism. Author of The Eye in the Text; Reading Frames in Modern Fiction; The Inner Theatre of Recent French Poetry; Women of Bloomsbury: Virginia, Vanessa, and Carrington; The Surrealist Look: An Erotics of Encounter; Picasso's Weeping Woman: The Life and Art of Dora Maar; Robert Motherwell with Pen and Brush; To the Boathouse: A Memoir; Surprised in Translation; and Provençal Cooking: Savoring the Simple Life in France.; studies of André Breton; Yves Bonnefoy; and illustrated biographies of Virginia Woolf, Marcel Proust, Henry James, Pablo Picasso, and Salvador Dali. Editor of The Harper Collins World Reader; Textual Analysis; The Yale Anthology of Twentieth-Century French Poetry, Surrealism; The Surrealist Painters and Poets; Surrealist Love Poetry. Translator of Tristan Tzara: Approximate Man and Other Writings; André Breton: Mad Love; Jacques Derrida and Paule Thévenin: The Secret Art of Antonin Artaud; Louis-René des Forêts: Ostinato. Co-translator and editor of Selected Poems and Prose of Stéphane Mallarmé; Mallarmé in Prose; The Essential Poems and Texts of Robert Desnos She lives in New York with her husband, Dr. Boyce Bennett. Website:

Selection of Books Published:

Surrealism and the Literary Imagination. The Hague: Mouton, 1966.

The Poetry of Dada and Surrealism. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1971.

The Inner Theatre of Recent French Poetry. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1972.

André Breton. Boston: Twayne, 1974.

The Presence of René Char. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1976.

René Char. Boston: Twayne, 1976.

The Surrealist Voice of Robert Desnos. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1977.

La Main de Pierre Reverdy. Geneva: Droz, 1979.

The Eye in the Text: Essays on Perception, Mannerist to Modern. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1981.

A Metapoetics of the Passage: Architextures Surrealist and After. Hanover: University of New England Press, 1981.

L'Oeuvre filante de René Char. Paris: Nizet, 1981.

Yves Bonnefoy. Boston: Twayne, 1984.

Reading Frames in Modern Fiction. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1986.

Edmond Jabès. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1988.

The Art of Interference: Stressed Readings in Visual and Verbal Texts. Cambridge: Polity, and Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1988.

Women of Bloomsbury: Virginia, Vanessa, and Carrington. New York and London: Routledge, 1990.

Robert Motherwell: What Art Holds. New York: Columbia University Press, 1995.

Carrington and Lytton/ Alone Together. London: Cecil Woolf, 1996.

André Breton, Revisited. New York: Twayne, 1996.

The Surrealist Look: An Erotics of Encounter. Cambridge: M.I.T. Press, 1997.

Surrealism and the Art of Display. Wexner Center, Fall, 1997.

Bloomsbury and France: Art and Friends. (with Sarah Bird Wright) New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.

Picasso's Weeping Woman: the Life and Art of Dora Maar Boston: Little Brown/Bulfinch, 2000.

Dora Maar With and Without Picasso: A Biography. London: Thames and Hudson, 2000.

Les Vies de Dora Maar: Bataille, Picasso et les surrealistes. Paris: Thames & Hudson, 2000.

Dora Maar con y sin Picasso: una biografia. Madrid: Destino, 2000.

Die Kunsterlin an Picasso's Seite. Berlin: Nicolai, 2000.

Dora Maar: med og uden Picasso : en biografi. Copenhagen: Forlaget Soren Fogtdal, 2001.

Virginia Woolf: Illustrated Lives. London: Penguin, 2001; New York: Overlook, 2002; paper: Overlook Duckworth, 2004.

Marcel Proust: Illustrated Lives. New York and London: Overlook Duckworth, 2003.

Pablo Picasso. London: Reaktion Books, 2005.

Henry James: Illustrated Lives. New York and London: Overlook Duckworth, 2006.

Glorious Eccentrics: Modernist Women Painting and Writing. New York and London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006.

Surprised in Translation. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006.

​Salvador Dali: Critical Lives.  Reaktion Books, 2008.
Provençal Cooking: Savoring a Simple Life in France. Pegasus Books, 2008.
How Vita Matters, Cecil Woolf publisher (Bloomsbury Heritage Series), 2011.
Blaise Pascal: Miracles and Reason: Reaktion Books, 2016.
Glorieuses modernistes: Art, écriture et modernisme au féminin, with Anne Reynes-Delobel, Presses Universitaires de Liège (Série Littératures), 2015.
Undoing Art, with Michel Delville. Macerata: Quodlibet Elements, 2017.
Creative Gatherings: Meeting Places of Modernism : London: Reaktion Books, 2019.
Forthcoming: Alice Paalen Rahon (New York Review Poets)
                      Mina Loy (Critical Lives: Reaktion)

Théorie/Tableau/Texte. Paris: Minard, 1983.

About French Poetry from Dada to Tel Quel: Theory and Text. Detroit: Wayne State, 1984.

The Prose Poem in France (co-editor with Hermine Riffaterre). New York: Columbia University Press, 1985.

Le Manifeste et le caché. Paris: Minard, 1981.

Le Texte et son double. Paris: Lettres Modernes, 1985.

Writing in a Modern Temper. Stanford: Anma Libri, 1984.

Textual Analysis: Some Readers Reading. New York: Modern Language Association, 1986.

Perspectives on Perception: Philosophy, Art, and Literature. New York: Peter Lang, 1988.

Edmond Jabès. (co-editor with Richard Stamelman) Geneva: Editions de la Montagne, 1989.

Reading Proust Now. (co-editor with Eugène Nicole) New York: Peter Lang, 1990.

Selected Poems of René Char. (co-editor with Tina Jolas and translated) New York: New Directions, 1992.

Women and Surrealism. (co-editor with Ruedi Kuenzli and Gwen Raaberg) Cambridge: M.I.T. Press, 1991.

City Images. Philadelphia, Gordon and Breach, 1991.

L'Esprit Créateur. (co-editor with Richard Stamelman) 32, 2 (Summer 1992).

Joseph Cornell's Theater of the Mind: Selected Journals, Letters, and Files. New York and London: Thames and Hudson, 1994.

HarperCollins World Reader. (chief editor) New York: HarperCollins, 1994.

Contre-Courants: Les femmes s'écrivent à travers les siècles. (co-edited with Nancy K. Miller, Elizabeth Houlding, and Cheryl Morgan) Prentice Hall, 1994.

Carto-graphies. (co-editor with Mary Jean Green, Marianne Hirsch, Ronnie Scharfman) New Haven: Yale University Press, 1995.

"Around Yves Bonnefoy" (co-editor with Renée Waldinger) Special issue of L'Esprit Créateur, 36, 3 (Fall 1996).

Surrealist Painters and Poets. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT, 2001.

Manifesto: A Century of Isms. Lincoln: Univ. of Nebraska Press, 2001.

The Yale Anthology of Twentieth Century French Poetry: a Bilingual Anthology New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002. (aided by French Government and the Florence Gould Foundation)

Surrealism (London: Phaidon, 2004)


Tristan Tzara, Approximate Man and Other Writings, 1974.

Poems of René Char. (with Jonathan Griffin) Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1976.

Roof Slates and other Poems of Pierre Reverdy. (with Patricia Terry) Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1981.

Selected Poems and Prose of Stephane Mallarmé. New York: New Directions, 1982.

Poems of André Breton. (with Jean-Pierre Cauvin) Austin: University of Texas Press, 1982.

Selected Poems of St-John Perse. New York: New Directions, 1982.

André Breton, Mad Love. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1987.

Andre Breton, Communicating Vessels. (with Geoffrey Harris) Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1991.

Marcelin Pleynet, Robert Motherwell. Paris: Daniel Papierski, 1990.

Selected Poems of Pierre Reverdy. (editor and co-translator with John Ashbery and Patricia Terry) Winston-Salem: Wake Forest University Press, 1991.

Selected Poems of René Char. (editor and co-translator with Tina Jolas) New York: New Directions, 1991.

Jacques Derrida and Paule Thévenin, The Secret Art of Antonin Artaud. Cambridge: M.I.T. Press, 1998.

André Breton, Lost Steps. (co-editor with Mark Polizzotti) Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1996.

André Breton, Break of Day. (co-translator and co-editor with Mark Polizzotti) Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1999.

Mallarme in Prose. New York: New Directions, 2001.

Louis-René des Forêts, Ostinato. University of Nebraska Press, 2001.

Tristan Tzara: Approximate Man and Other Poems, new edition. Boston: Black Widow Press, 2005

André Breton: Selected Poems (editor and co-translator). Boston: Black Widow Press, 2005

Paul Eluard. Selected Poems (co-edited with Patricia Terry, and co-translated). Boston: Black Widow Press, 2006.

Edited and Translated:
Pierre Reverdy, Early to Late , Black Widow Books, 2014.
Ed. and tr. with Nancy Kline, Lorand Gaspar: Absolute Earth. Contramundum, 2015.
Milk Bowl of Feathers: Essential Surrealist Writings, New Directions, 2018.
Co-ed with Michel Delville, Edinburgh Companion to the Prose Poem, 2020.
Art Catalogs:
Surrealism and the rue Blomet. London and New York, Eykyn Maclean, 2013.
Larry Poons (Loretta Howard Gallery)
Robert Motherwell and Collage (Paul Kasmin Gallery)
André Masson: A Mythology of Desire, catalogue for exhibition, Blain/Di Donna, April, 2012.
Jean Arp: A Collection of Wood Reliefs and Collages, catalogue for exhibition, Blain/Di Donna, November, 2012.
Elspeth Halvorsen, Sand, Swings, and Moon. Berta Walker Gallery, Provincetown, 2013.
Surrealism in the New World (Weinstein Gallery, San Francisco)
co-authored: Picasso and the Camera (Gagosian), 2016.
Kay Sage, co-Authored with Stephen Robeson Miller, 2018.
Snail Time (Postmedia, Milan, 2018)

Elected Positions:

President, Association for Study of Dada and Surrealism, 1971-75

President, Modern Language Association of America, 1983

President, Academy of Literary Studies, 1984-5

President, American Comparative Literature Association, 1989-91


Guggenheim Fellow, Fulbright Fellow; National Endowment for the Humanities Senior Fellow; Director, National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Seminars (2); Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar; life member of Clare Hall, Cambridge University; Getty Scholar; Rockefeller Foundation (Bellagio: 1994, 2005).


Editor: Le Siècle éclaté (Paris: 1973--); Co-Editor, Dada and Surrealism (1980--); Chief Editor, HarperCollins World Reader (1994).
Editorial Board: College Literature; Comparative Literature Studies; Comparative Studies; Diacritics; French Review (1970-80); Modern Fiction Studies; New York Literary Forum; Publications of the Modern Language Association (PMLA,1979-81); Sites; Twentieth Century Studies.