Anna Magdalena Elsner

Dr. Anna Magdalena Elsner

SNF Marie Heim-Vögtlin Fellow - Littérature Française

Anna Magdalena Elsner, MA (Oxon) MPhil, PhD (Cantab)

SNF Marie Heim-Vögtlin Research Fellow



Anna Magdalena Elsner holds a BA in Philosophy and French from St Hilda’s College, Oxford University and a MPhil in European Literature and Culture from Darwin College, Cambridge University. She received her PhD, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council in 2011, also from Cambridge University. Subsequently, she was the Joanna Randall McIver Junior Research Fellow at St Hugh’s College, Oxford University. Before joining the Center for Medical Humanities at the University of Zurich in 2016, she worked at King’s College London, first as a Swiss National Science Foundation Prospective Researcher and then as a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow. In 2017, she was a fellow at the Yale-Hastings Program in Ethics and Health Policy.


Research Interests

  • Twentieth and Twenty-First Century French Literature and Philosophy
  • Medical Humanities
  • Palliative Care
  • Narrative Ethics
  • Documentary Cinema
  • Marcel Proust

Anna’s research interests are located at the intersection of French twentieth-century literature and medicine, with a particular focus on the doctor-patient encounter, illness narratives and narrative ethics. Her current research project, entitled ‘Palliative Pages: Inscribing Mortality into French Literature and Theory since 1950’ is supported by a Marie Heim-Vögtlin grant of the Swiss National Science Foundation. In this project, she seeks to contextualize the meaning of ‘palliative’ within French literature and theory from the 1950s onwards. The project aims to contribute to the field of the Medical Humanities - and makes a case for the important role French literature has to play within it. It also proposes to substantiate the philosophy of palliative care with its literary representations, and thereby hopes to trigger a discussion on how to generate more meaningful and humane outcomes in end-of-life care.


Selected Publications


Mourning and Creativity in Proust (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017)


Edited Volumes:

Anamnesia: Public and Private Memory in Modern French Culture, ed. by Peter Collier, Anna M. Elsner, Olga Smith (Oxford: Peter Lang, 2009)


Journal Articles/Book Chapters:

‘De jour en jour / From day to day’ – Documenting Times of Self-Mourning in Hervé Guibert’s La Pudeur ou l’impudeur (1990), Film-Philosophy, 20 (2016), 250-264.

‘Pain, Painlessness and Resurrection in Malraux’s Lazare’, L’Ésprit Créateur, 56.2 (2016), 25–37.

‘“Penser commence peut-être là” – Proust and Derrida on animals, ethics and mortality’, 111 (2016), Modern Languages Review, 375-391.

‘‘Un état nerveux dont je n’étais pas responsable’: Medical and Moral Language in the drame du coucher, 12 (2015), Marcel Proust Aujourd’hui, 76-90.

‘La sociologie du deuil dans l’épisode de la guerre: entre éthique et esthéthique’, in Proust écrivain de la Première Guerre mondiale, ed. by Philippe Chardin and Nathalie Mauriac-Dyer (Dijon: Editions Universitaires de Dijon, 2014), pp. 37-49.

‘Premières lectures européennes de Du côté de chez Swann’, Nouvelle Revue Française, ‘D’après Proust’, ed. by Philippe Forest and Stéphane Audeguy, 603 (2013), pp. 249-254.

‘À la recherche du médecin philosophe: Der Proustsche Arzt zwischen Beruf und Berufung’, Marcel Proust und die Medizin (Berlin: Insel Verlag, 2014), pp. 109-127.

‘Critical Reception during Proust’s lifetime’, in Marcel Proust in Context, ed. by Adam Watt (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013), pp. 183-190.

‘Death in Venice – Exploring Ruskinian Themes in Proust’s depiction of Venice’, in Ruskin, Venice and Nineteenth-Century Cultural Travel, ed. by Keith Hanley and Emma Sdegno (Venice: Bricole, Libreria editrice cafoscarina, 2010), pp. 271-286.

‘Uncanny Balbec – Phantoms, Crypts and Nightmares in Les Intermittences du cœur’, in The Beautiful and the Monstrous, ed. by Amaleena Damlé and Aurélie L’Hostis (Oxford: Peter Lang, 2010), pp. 79-92.

L’obscénité absolue du projet de comprendre – The Communicability of Traumatic Knowledge in Claude Lanzmann’s Shoah’, in Anamnesia: Public and Private Memory in Modern French Culture, ed. by Peter Collier, Anna M. Elsner, Olga Smith (Oxford: Peter Lang, 2009), pp. 41-55.

‘Tracing the Presence of an Absence: Mourning and Creation from ‘Les intermittence du cœur to Le Temps retrouvé, in Le Temps retrouvé eighty years after, ed. by Adam Watt (Oxford: Peter Lang, 2009), pp. 279-292.