Profile picture for user Liesl Yamaguchi

Liesl Yamaguchi

Assistant Professor
4222 Dwinelle Hall
Wednesdays 2-4

Research Areas


  • poetry & poetics
  • 19th-century French literature
  • translation
  • literary theory, esp. structuralism
  • history of linguistics
  • Finnish literature


I am interested in poetics and linguistics, literary theory (particularly structuralism), and the history of science: subjects I investigate primarily in texts drawn from post-revolutionary France. My first book The Proper Tone: On the Color of Vowels is forthcoming in the Verbal Arts Series of Fordham University Press. It asks why poets and scientists of the nineteenth century began imputing colors and brightnesses to vowels and studies how these discourses were valorized and invalidated as synesthesia came to be constituted as modern scientific object. Reading the literary and scientific histories together, I suggest how synesthesia more subtly construed might be seen to inflect many arts and sciences of modernity.

I am also an active translator from Finnish and French, most notably of Väinö Linna’s Unknown Soldiers (Penguin Classics, 2015), and I am currently co-editing a new volume of essays, Literature as Sound Studies, with yasser elhariry. A second monograph on the intextricability of anatomy from poetic terminology is also in the works. I warmly welcome inquiries from students of all levels and departments whose curiosity is sparked by something I have written here.



PhD and MA, Princeton University

MSt, University of Oxford

BA, Columbia College of Columbia University

Selected Publications


The Proper Tone: On the Color of Vowels, Fordham UP, forthcoming 2024.

Unknown Soldiers by Väinö Linna, Penguin Classics 2015 (translator from the Finnish).



Keeping Quiet in Tove Jansson’s Fair Play,” Common Knowledge 28.2(2022): 198-205.

Incipit: On Poetry and Crisis,” with Thomas C. Connolly, Nineteenth-Century French Studies 50.1-2 (Fall-Winter 2021-2022): 1-49.

Vers le vers véridique : poésie et vérité chez Mallarmé,” Fabula LhT Issue Nº24: Toucher au « vrai » : l’intelligence de la poésie ed. Annick Ettlin and Jan Baetens. Nov 2020.

Correspondances : La couleur des voyelles chez Lévi-Strauss, Jakobson, Rimbaud et Banville,” Parade Sauvage 30 (2019): 121-142.

Sensuous Linguistics: On Saussure’s Synesthesia,” New Literary History 50.1 (2019): 23-42. Winner of the 2018 Ralph Cohen Prize