Born in Boston and raised in Vermont, Benjamin Semple majored in French at Hamilton College in Clinton, New York, receiving his B.A. in 1983. He studied in Paris at the Sorbonne (1982) and taught English at the University of Burgundy in Dijon (1987-8). He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1991. In 1995-96, as a Morse Fellow of Yale University, he conducted research at the Bibliothèque nationale in Paris. He has taught at Gonzaga University since the fall of 1998 and is currently Professor of Modern Languages and Literature. He teaches beginning, intermediate and advanced French, as well as upper-level courses on French and Francophone literature and civilization.
Trained as a medievalist, Professor Semple has focused his scholarship on French works of the late Middle Ages. With Françoise Jaouën, he co-edited the volume Corps mystique, Corps sacré (Yale French Studies, Number 86). This collection of essays explored the mystery of the body in French texts from the medieval, Renaissance and early modern periods. As a recognized scholar of Christine de Pizan, Professor Semple has contributed to several collections of essays on this late 14th-century writer. His most recent publication in this area is an article which appeared in Christine de Pizan and the Categories of Difference (ed. Marilynn Desmond; University of Minnesota Press).
“Christine et le courage: La «vertu de force».” Ton nom sera reluisant aprés toy par longue memoire: Études sur Christine de Pizan. Ed. Anna Loba (Poznan: Uniwersytet IM. Adama Mickiewicza W Poznaniu, 2017), 200-213.
“L’erreur et la morale: Le dualisme de la 'loi païenne' selon Christine de Pizan.” Desireuse de plus avant enquerre...Actes du VIe Colloque international sur Christine de Pizan (Paris, 20-24 juillet 2006). Ed. Liliane Dulac, Anne Paupert, Christine Reno et Bernard Ribémont (Paris : Champion, 2008), 167-179.
“The Critique of Knowledge as Power: The Limits of Philosophy and Theology in Christine de Pizan.” Christine de Pizan and the Categories of Difference, ed. Marilynn Desmond (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1998), 108-127.
“Christine de Pizan’s Phenomenology of Beauty in the Lyric and the Dream-Vision.” Christine de Pizan and the Medieval French Lyric, ed. Earl Jeffrey Richards (Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 1998), 187-205.
Special editor (with Françoise Jaouën) of Yale French Studies 86, Corps mystique, Corps sacré, 1994.
“The Male Psyche and the Female Sacred Body in Marie de France and Christine de Pizan.” Yale French Studies 86 (1994): 164-186.
“The Consolation of a Woman Writer: Christine de Pizan's Use of Boethius in Lavision-Christine.” Women, the Book and the World, ed. Jane Taylor and Leslie Smith (Suffolk, UK and Rochester, NY: Boydell & Brewer, 1995), 39-48.
“Recognizing Roland: The Response of the Medieval Audience to the Dreams of Charlemagne in the Song of Roland.” Dreams and French Literature, ed. Tom Conner (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1995), 27-45.