Elena Russo has a Licence ès Lettres from the Université de Genève and a PhD from Princeton University. She has taught at Wellesley College, Yale University, the University of Virginia, and Stanford University.
Her interests are focused on 17th- and 18th-century French literature, cultural and intellectual history of the Enlightenment, sociability, the history of aesthetics and of criticism.
Elena Russo's books include Skeptical Selves: Empiricism and Modernity in the French Novel (1996); La Cour et la ville de la littérature classique aux Lumières (2002) and Styles of Enlightenment: Taste, Politics and Authorship in Eighteenth-Century France (2007).
She is currently working on a book on notions of posterity, literary legacy, and the historicity of art forms from the 17th to the 19th centuries. This book examines the ways in which authors see time as shaping and inflecting the reception and the value of their works. The purpose is to explore the existence of a relationship between models of transmission of aesthetic value and models of cultural, theological, and biological "evolution." She has recently been working on the relationship between fictional and historical libertines in the 17th and 18th centuries.