Assistant Professor of History
PhD, University of Pennsylvania, 2003
Early modern/modern Europe with a focus on France; social and cultural history; history of business, labor, and commercial society; theater; urban history; French empire.
Office Hours: summer - no office hours, On leave 2013-14
Office: 101 Benson Hall
Lauren Clay is a historian of Old Regime and revolutionary France and its empire, with particular interests in urban cultural and civic life and the emergence of a commercially oriented society. Her publications include “Patronage, Profits, and Public Theaters: Rethinking Cultural Unification in Ancien Régime France,” in The Journal of Modern History (2007) and “Provincial Actors, the Comédie-Française, and the Business of Performing in Eighteenth-Century France,” in Eighteenth-Century Studies (2005), which was the co-winner of the 2006-2007 James Clifford Prize, awarded by the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies. Her book Stagestruck: The Business of Theater in Eighteenth-Century France and Its Colonies(Cornell University Press, 2013) examines the introduction of professional public theater into cities throughout France and the French empire during the prerevolutionary era. She has also begun work on a new book project focusing on the culture of commercial capitalism in France through a study of chambers of commerce and their deputies beginning with their founding in the early eighteenth century through to the early nineteenth century. Clay’s scholarship has been supported by grants and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Newberry Library, the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies, the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, and the Fulbright Program, among others.
Clay completed her PhD in history at the University of Pennsylvania (2003). She joined the Vanderbilt faculty from Texas A&M University, where she taught from 2003-2008. She teaches courses focusing on France, Paris, early modern and modern European history, and the Enlightenment, as well as a graduate seminar on historical methods and research.