Effie Rentzou studies literature and its relation to other arts, with particular attention to the historical avant-garde movements and modernism. Her interests include poetics, the relation between image and text, social analysis of literature, politics and literature, and the internationalization of the avant-garde. After earning a BA in Classics from the University of Athens, she earned a second degree (Maîtrise) in French Literature at the University of Paris IV-Sorbonne, where she also completed her DEA and PhD (2002). In 2003 she was the Ted and Elaine Athanassiades Post-Doctoral Research Fellow in the Program in Hellenic Studies at Princeton University, where she also taught from 2004-2008 as a lecturer with a joint appointment in the Department of Comparative Literature and the Department of French and Italian.
Her first book, Littérature malgré elle : Le surréalisme et la transformation du littéraire (2010) examines in three ways the construction of literary phenomena in the production of an anti-literary movement, surrealism: as a social institution, as a reconsideration of traditional literary forms, and as a recreation of the rhetorical pact with the reader.
She is currently working on a second book, tentatively titled Concepts of the World: Avant-garde and the Idea of the International. This project explores the conceptualization of the “world” in the work and activities of writers and artists within and around historical avant-garde movements – futurism, dada, and surrealism – during the period 1900-1940. The analysis brings together and confronts “center” perspectives on the world, deriving from Paris, with “peripheral” ones that issued from the margins of Europe and the Americas. The specific version of the “world” created by the avant-garde is sought in a series of dialectical tensions that more often than not took the form “Paris and the others,” but which were more precisely conceived and enacted between local and world-wide, national and international, particular and universal.