Previous News Items

News Items

Étienne Balibar Prize in Cultural and Political Thought
Application deadline: June 10, 2023.

The Étienne Balibar undergraduate prize will be awarded annually to the best essay in cultural and political thought by a Columbia University undergraduate majoring/concentrating in French & Francophone Studies, Comparative Literature & Society or Medical Humanities.

The Étienne Balibar graduate prize will be awarded annually for the best essay in cultural and political theory by a Columbia Masters or PhD student in the Department of French and/or the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society.

Application deadline: June 10, 2023. Please refer to the information outlined here to apply: submission process.

Maison française Director Shanny Peer was awarded the Légion d'honneur, France's highest civilian award, at a moving ceremony at the French Consulate on January 9. The department  warmly congratulates Shanny on this well-deserved award, which recognizes her career achievements as an advocate for French culture in the United States.

Listen to Thomas Dodman talk about his book Nostalgie. Histoire d'une émotion mortelle (Seuil, 2022) on France Inter (Histoire de), France Culture (La Suite dans les idées and Concordance des temps) and RTBF (Un Jour dans l'histoire).

The Department of French warmly congratulates the winner of the 2022 Nobel Prize in literature, Annie Ernaux. We are thrilled to welcome Ernaux for a rare appearance tomorrow,  Wednesday, October 12, from 6:00pm-8:00pm in Julius S. Held Lecture Hall, Barnard Hall, 3rd floor.

Ernaux will be in conversation with novelist Hari Kunzru, author of Red Pill. The event will be introduced by Ken Chen, Associate Director of the Barnard College Creative Writing program.

Professor Antoine Compagnon's new edition of Proust's Essais sits on the desk of President Emmanuel Macron at the Elysée palace.

Additions to the graduate student community (Fall 2022) are: Brooke Habit (University of Virginia); Carlos Malache Silva (CUNY Graduate Center); R.J. McIntyre (University of California Berkeley); Armel Jovensel Ngamaleu (Universite de Douala); Sara Rani Reddy (University of Notre Dame); Eponine Senay (Universite Paris IV- Sorbonne); Jesus Israel Suarez Martinez (Columbia University Columbia College).

Congratulations to Katherine Raichlen on the successful doctoral dissertation defense, Historicizing Identities: Family Stories and Twentieth-Century Jewish Migration in Francophone Literature and Film, that took place on June 28, 2022.

Congratulations to Noni Carter on the successful defense of her doctoral dissertation, Homo narrans: In pursuit of science's fictions of the 'human' in 18th-century speculative science and 20th- and 21st-century speculative literature, on May 31, 2022.

Pierre Force’s book Wealth and Disaster was cited in the May 21, 2022 New York Times story about Haiti’s independence debt: “The Ransom”.

Congratulations to Jeanne Devautour, who has been awarded a Mellon Humanities International Travel Fellowship for Fall 2022.

New in print: Maryse Condé, a Writer for our Times (Yale French Studies, 140), edited by Madeleine Dobie and Kaiama L. Glover. This new volume of essays considers the work of Professor emerita Maryse Condé in light of contemporary social and political dynamics and movements, from #MeToo and BLM to the existential threats of climate change. The volume includes translations by PhD students André Pettman (Elsa Dorlin), Sophia Mo (Myriam Cottias) and Nadrah Mohammed (Cilas Kemedjio).

Congratulations to Soraya Limare, who has been named as a fall 2022 Camargo Foundation Fellow.

Conference honoring the late Professor Henri Mitterand
Friday, March 25, 10am-6pm, Paris-time. At 4:30pm (11:30 NY time) there will be a round table on Henri Mitterand's "Années à Columbia" with former colleagues and students Pierre Force, Antoine Compagnon, Heidi Holst-Knudsen, Dominique Jullien, Séverine Martin, and Göran Blix. 

Congratulations to Sophia Mo, who has been selected for a Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowship for her project, Sisterhood in Translation: Gender, Nationalism, and Cross-colonial Solidarity in Algeria.

Antoine Compagnon, Blanche W. Knopf Professor of French and Comparative Literature, was elected to the Académie française on February 17, 2022. He joins a body founded in 1635, which is dedicated to the "defense and illustration of the French language" and has included distinguished writers, scholars, artists, scientists, and public servants from France and the French-speaking world. Compagnon was a professor of French at the Sorbonne from 1994 to 2005, and a professor at the Collège de France from 2005 to 2020, but his longest institutional affiliation is with the Columbia French Department, which he joined as a full professor in 1985, at the age of 35. Compagnon’s critical oeuvre is immense and touches a wide range of authors and periods, from the Renaissance to the Twentieth Century and literary theory. His most recent work, entitled La vie derrière soi: fins de la littérature (2021) is a deeply learned and deeply personal meditation on the complex relationship between creativity and old age. Compagnon continues to serve on the Columbia faculty and his colleagues look forward to having an immortal among them, as members of the Académie are traditionally known.

Congratulations to PhD student Ellie Grabowski and majors Rosa Geoghegan and Lilian Rountree, whose work on the theme of illness in French & Francophone literature and history appears in the current issue of the health-humanities journal Synapsis.

Read Tommaso Manfredini's article in the Winter 2022 issue of Liberté.

Read Aubrey Gabel’s recent article, A DAD CARTOONIST TRAVELS INTO FACTORY LIFE, published in Public Books.

On Friday, November 19, 2021 the University Senate unanimously approved a motion to amend the university statutes to change the name of our department from French & Romance Philology to French. The motion was brought before the Senate in response to a request from our Executive Committee with the enthusiastic approval of the Dean of Humanities.

Sylvère Lotringer, Professor Emeritus of French, passed away on November 8, 2021. The department mourns this loss and commemorates his life and career in this “In Memoriam” page.

Paul LeClerc, the Chair of the Maison française Advisory Board and former Director of the Columbia Global Center-Paris, past President of Hunter College and the New York Public Library, who received his PhD from Columbia's Department of French, along with his wife, Judith Ginsburg, the Executive Director of the Nash Family Foundation, have announced a major gift to create the Paul LeClerc and Judith Ginsberg Professorship in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. The holders of this future chair will be specialists of French and Francophone Studies or of the history of France. Read here for more details of this generous gift to the French Department and an interview with Paul and Judith.

Aline Rogg successfully defended her doctoral dissertation, Creole gatherings: Race, collecting, and canon-building in New Orleans (1830-1930), this past spring. We congratulate Dr. Rogg on the receipt of the PhD degree (October 20, 2021).

Professor Emeritus Henri Mitterand passed away on October 8, 2021. The department mourns the death of a respected and cherished colleague whose life and career are commemorated in our 'In Memoriam' page.

Congratulations to David Haziza on the successful defense of his doctoral dissertation, Witches, Jews, and redemption through sin in Jules Michelet's La Sorcière, on October 7, 2021.

Thomas Dodman has just coedited the 9th issue of the journal Sensibilités, titled Au miroir de l'argent.

Parler une voix - Lecture in ParisMaylis de Kerangal in conversation with Thomas Dodman. Maylis de Kerangal's most recent collection of essays (Canoës) was explored in this virtual event held September 27, 2021.

Applications to the PhD program in French are now open for admission in fall 2022: GSAS Admissions & Toolkit. If you are interested in applying and would like to speak with our faculty and students, please contact the Director of Graduate Studies, Professor Madeleine Dobie

Thomas Dodman has just coedited, together with Anne Verjus and Caroline Muller, Epistolary Gestures, a special issue of French Historical Studies.

2020-21 recipients of Racial Justice Mini-Grants announced. We congratulate Kaitlyn MatrassiNoah Mintz, and Sophia Momembers of the Anti-Racist Language Pedagogy Working Group.

Souleymane Bachir Diagne participates in Night of Ideas, the 24-hour virtual marathon event featuring philosophical debate and artistic performances produced in 75 countries around the world. View the teaser video here.

Available to view, Antoine Compagnon's final lesson at the College de France, "Quindecim annos, grande mortalis aevi spatium".

Thomas Dodman's work on nostalgia and with the journal Sensibilités is featured in a special series on "Les penseurs de l'intime" in Le Monde: his interview and the series introduction are available online.

In light of the uncertainties associated with the COVID-19 emergency, the Department of French has decided not to admit students to the PhD program in French in 2021. Doctoral admissions will resume in 2022. We believe that this decision will enable us to focus at this challenging moment on the needs of our current students and to welcome new students in the best possible pedagogical circumstances.

If you are interested in applying in 2022 and would like to speak with our faculty and students this fall, please contact the Director of Graduate Studies, Professor Madeleine Dobie.  Admissions to our MA program in French will proceed as usual in 2021.

Congratulations to Aubrey Gabel, winner of a Lenfest Junior Faculty Development Grant, for her project “Outliers: Contemporary French Writers Playing Politics”!

University College London welcomed hundreds of virtual attendees to the video journal launch event, "We Have Always Been Medieval" - Bruno Latour and the Premodern, on the special issue of the Romanic Review, Category Crossings: Bruno Latour and Medieval Modes of Existence.

CURRENT DEBATES: Black Lives Matter in a TransAtlantic Context
Since the horrifying murder of George Floyd by members of the Minneapolis police force, protests have erupted across the world, not least in France, which has seen its own share of police violence against minoritized people, and which has its own deep history of slavery.

We are sharing these recent articles, Tear Down that Statue, Mr. Macron!, and I'M SUFFOCATING, that reflect and build on the protests and that invite and inspire us to think anew about race and inequality in a Transatlantic context. Please connect with ColumbiaFrench at Facebook for more articles on these current debates.

Elisabeth Ladenson, General Editor of the Romanic Review, announces new collaboration with Duke University Press with the debut issue: Catergory Crossings: Bruno Latour and Medieval Modes of Existence, edited by Marilynn Desmond and Noah Guynn. 

Listen to Souleymane Bachir Diagne's interview on RFI about the coronavirus situation in New York and the social inequalities that this health crisis highlights. Check out also his philosophical analysis of this pandemic given to the Senegalese media SenBaat.

Eliza Zingesser, 2019 Junior Faculty Grant recipient, discusses her work in an interview with Jennifer Leach, Assistant Director of Faculty Advancement, for the PROVOST'S SPOTLIGHT.

Madeleine Dobie is a recipient of the Lenfest Distinguished Columbia Faculty Award in recognition of the excellence of faculty as teachers and mentors of both undergraduate and graduate students within and outside the classroom setting.

The Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities, Case Western Reserve University, hosted Elisabeth Ladenson for three events as part of the 2019 Walter A. Strauss Lecture Series: The Author in the Margins.

Camille Robcis provided the Washington Post with Op-Ed: Why an IVF bill is the next fault line for the French republic.

Contributing to the New York History of Science Lecture Series, Camille Robcis presented Disalienation: Politics, Philosophy, and Radical Psychiatry in France. This talk explored the intersections of politics, philosophy, and radical psychiatry in 20th century France.The Atlantic cites Camille Robcis, author of The Law of Kinship: Anthropology, Psychoanalysis, and the Family in France in the article Why IVF Has Divided France.

Joanna Stalnaker gave the opening Lit Hum lecture to the class of 2023 at Lerner Hall. This year, instead of the traditional focus on the first six books of the Iliad, she spoke about essays by Toni Morrison and Virginia Woolf, encouraging students to think critically about the Western literary canon and the exclusions and silences it perpetuates. 

Professor Stalnaker also hosted Emily Wilson, translator of a bold new version of the Odyssey and recipient of a MacArthur grant, for a Lit Hum course-wide lecture at Miller Theater. The event was attended by nearly six hundred people, including students, faculty and alumni.

She also spoke about the relevance of Lit Hum to today’s world at the launch of the Core Centennial at Low Library.  

Madeleine Dobie received a grant from the Center for Spatial Research to develop a hybrid course on spatial imaginaries and arts spaces in Algeria and an award from the Humanities War and Peace Initiative for her project After the Arab Spring: Conflict and Culture in the Maghreb.

This summer Madeleine Dobie co-directed the Middle-East/North Africa studies program's first residency at Columbia's new Global Center in Tunis.

Congratulations to our students for the following awards: Jasmine Bisette, Chelsea Jean-Michel, Brian Min, and Andrew Shaver for being initiated into Phi Beta Kappa; Elizabeth Johnson and Katherine Ko for the Promise in French Studies Prize; Chelsea Jean-Michel and Andrew Shaver for the Senior French Prize; Jacob Matthews and Brian Min for Departmental Honors. Well done to you and to all the graduating class of 2019!

The Paul LeClerc Fund in honor of Otis Fellows and Jean Sareil

On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of his doctoral dissertation defense, Paul LeClerc has again manifested his generosity to his alma mater giving $50,000 to Columbia University for the benefit of the Department of French and Romance Philology, Faculty of Arts and Sciences. The gift establishes The Paul LeClerc Fund in honor of Otis Fellows and Jean Sareil, an endowed fund, named in memory of Paul’s former teachers and mentors at Columbia.

The department will use the endowment to enhance the experience of graduate students in French at Columbia, with an emphasis on faculty-student academic interaction.

"These two brilliant, generous and inspiring members of the Columbia French Department shaped my entire career.  I will be forever grateful to them and to the Department." — Paul LeClerc, Director, Columbia Global Centers Paris

On April 17 the American Academy of Arts and Sciences announced the election of its new members for 2019. We congratulate Souleymane Bachir Diagne!

Celia Abele, PhD Candidate, has received a Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowship award. This fellowship provides a year of funding in support of advanced graduate students in the humanities and social sciences.

Madeleine Dobie's contribution to the forum on  “Race, Racism, and the Study of France and the Francophone World Today" appeared in H-France Salon in March 2019.

Madeleine Dobie co-organized with Kaiama Glover an international conference, "Maryse Condé: a writer for our times," at the Columbia Global Centers in Paris. 

On March 25th, The Royal Academy of Belgium elected Souleymane Bachir Diagne as an Associate member of its Class for Letters and Moral and Political Sciences. The official induction ceremony will take place on October 5, 2019 in Brussels at the Palais des Académies.

Noni Carter, PhD Candidate, received the 2019 PEN/Phyllis Naylor Working Writer Fellowship Award, offered annually to an author of children’s or young adult fiction. More on this accomplishment appears in: GSAS Student Successes.

Shanny Peer, the Director of Columbia University’s Maison Française, has been made a member of the French Legion d'honneur. This award will be presented in September at the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in New York City.

Look for Eliza Zingesser’s book publication, Stolen Song: How the Troubadours Became French, forthcoming with Cornell University Press.

Priscilla Parkhust Ferguson passed away on December 31, 2018. A graduate of Mount Holyoke College (1962), she received her PhD in French from Columbia in 1967. She taught at the University of Illinois at Chicago from 1979 to 1989 and joined the Columbia faculty in 1989. She was professor of French and sociology from 1989 to 1997, and professor of sociology from 1998 until her retirement. She was the author of several books including  Literary France: The Making of a Culture (1984), Paris as Revolution: Reading the 19th-century City (1994), Accounting for Taste: The triumph of French cuisine (2004), and Word of Mouth (2014).

On November 3, 2018, Emmanuelle Saada delivered the Edgar L. Newman Memorial Lecture at the Western Society for French History in Portland, Maine. She gave a talk entitled: “Without Distinction of … Sex. The Constitutional Politics of Race and Sex in Contemporary France.”

Emmanuelle Saada recently published two pieces: a chapter entitled “Constiutions and Forms of Pluralism in the Time of Conquest: The French Debates Over the Colonization of Algeria in the 1830s and 1840s” in Forms of Pluralism and Democratic Constitutionalism (Andrew Arato, Jean L. Cohen, Astrid von Busekist eds., Columbia University Press, 2018) and a chapter entitled “The Longue Durée of French Decolonization” in the Oxford Handbook of the Ends of Empire (2018).

Maryse Condé, Professor Emerita of French, is the winner of the New Academy Prize an alternative to the Nobel Prize in Literature, which was not awarded in 2018. The award ceremony took place in Stockholm on December 9.

Thomas Dodman has just published Une Histoire de la guerre with the Editions du Seuil, a global history of war in all its facets from the nineteenth century to the present, featuring contributions by 60 specialists from 6 different countries.

Kaiama L. Glover has been promoted to full professor (spring 2018). The same semester brought the publication of her translation of René Depestre's Hadriana dans tous mes rêves. Professor Glover will serve as an inaugural fellow of the Columbia Institute for Ideas and Imagination in Paris for the 2018-2019 academic year.

Emmanuelle Saada has been named the Carnoy Family Program Chair of Contemporary Civilization for a three-year term beginning in the fall of 2018.

Joanna Stalnaker has been named the Paul Brooke Program Chair for Literature Humanities for a three-year term beginning in the fall of 2018.

Joanna Stalnaker published “Les bouquets de Jean Starobinski” in the latest issue of Critique (no. 853-854, juin-juillet 2018).

Eliza Zingesser is the recipient of a Spring 2018 Junior Faculty Grant from the Provost for her book manuscript, research symposium and new translation. 

The Department of French is happy to welcome Professors  Aubrey Gabel  and Camille Robcis as the newest members of its faculty. Aubrey Gabel is a specialist of contemporary French literature and visual culture. Her dissertation, “Serious Play: Formal Innovation and Politics in French literature from the 1950s to the present,” examines how literary games have been interwoven with political theory and practice. Camille Robcis is an intellectual and cultural historian of Modern Europe, principally of modern French culture and thought. Her book The Law of Kinship: Anthropology, Pyschoanalysis, and the Family in France (Cornell UP, 2013) has been celebrated as a groundbreaking study on how a network of influential discourses (anthropological, psychoanalytic, religious, legal, political, historiographical) have contributed to the structuring role in French public debate and policy of the heterosexual family.

Additions to the graduate student community (Fall 2018) are: Ellen Burns (Trinity College, Dublin); Zachary Desjardins-Mooney (McGill University); Jeanne Devautour Choi  (ENS Lyon); Anna Langewiesche (Kenyon College); Soraya Limare (ENS Paris); Katherine Manansala (Boston College); Kaitlyn Matrassi (Ithaca College); Noah Mintz (Vassar College); Nyi Nyi Ohn Mint (Bard College); Emily Paull (University of Michigan); André Pettman (University of Arizona).

March 23, 2018 French daily Les Echo features Souleymane Bachir Diagne in culture section.

March 9, 2018 French daily Les Echos publishes article on Antoine Compagnon.

Souleymane Bachir Diagne is a recipient of the 2018 Frantz Fanon Lifetime Achievement award. The awards ceremony will take place this June at the Caribbean Philosophical Association international conference (Shifting the Geography of Reason: Ways of Knowing, Past and Future) at Cheikh Anta Diop University in Dakar.


Etienne Balibar

Hannah Arendt Prize in Political Thought, the City of Bremen and Heinrich Böll Foundation, Germany

Antoine Compagnon

Awarded Prix Guizot d'Histoire de l'Académie française, for his book Les Chiffoniers de Paris

Souleymane Bachir Diagne

Officier de l'Ordre national des Arts et Lettres

Frantz Fanon Lifetime Achievement Prize, Caribbean Philosophical Association

Thomas Dodman

Lenfest Junior Faculty Development Grant

Emmanuelle Saada 

Officier de l'Ordre national des Arts et Lettres

Eliza Zingesser

Lenfest Junior Faculty Development Grant

Provost's Grant for Junior Faculty Who Contribute to the Diversity Goals of the University

Heyman Center for the Humanities Fellowship

Malcolm Bowie Prize from the Society for French Studies

Eliza Zingesser was awarded the Malcolm Bowie Prize for her 2017 article “Pidgin Poetics:  Bird Talk in Medieval France and Occitania” published in New Medieval Literatures.

The French Embassy honored Souleymane Bachir Diagne and Emmanuelle Saada with ceremony on December 4, 2017. Bénédicte de Montlaur, Cultural Counselor of the French Embassy, presented them with the insignia of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.

In November (2017), Thomas Dodman discussed war literature and soldiers' writings with French historian Nicola Beaupré at the Maison Française. He also gave talks on the history of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton and on the medical history of nostalgia -- the topic of his forthcoming book -- at the Richardson History of Psychiatry Research Seminar at Cornell's Weill Medical College in NYC.

On October 26, 2017 at the Anton-Wilhelm-Amo-Lecture, Souleymane Bachir Diagne presented "Decolonizing the History of Philosophy" at the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg.

Antoine Compagnon, at the Frankfurt Book Fair, gave an interview to the Spanish newspaper El Pais (published on October 7, 2017) on French literature, among other topics.

Joanna Stalnaker recently contributed a chapter entitled “Rousseau’s First Person” to A History of Modern French Literature, published by Princeton. A chapter on Rousseau and Diderot’s silent dialogue at the end of their lives appeared in the volume Thinking with Rousseau, published by Cambridge. She spoke alongside Jonathan Israel, Brian Klug and Richard Wolin at a symposium in Lund, Sweden on “What’s Left of the Enlightenment?” In addition to her regular teaching, she is currently offering a course for Columbia alumni on the literary self-portrait from Montaigne to Colette.

Eliza Zingesser presented a paper on “Bird Talk in Medieval France and Occitania” at NYU’s recent conference, The Sense of Sound (Le sens du son).

Thomas W. Dodman, Assistant Professor, is the newest member of our faculty (Fall 2017).

Elizabeth Marcus has joined Stanford University as a Mellon Post-Doctoral Fellow in the Humanities. Laure Astourian has joined Bentley University as an Assistant Professor. Yohann Ripert has joined Stetson University as an Assistant Professor.

Additions to the graduate student community (Fall 2017) are: Molly Lindberg, Pacific Lutheran University; Nadrah Mohammed, New York University; Benjamin Olivennes, Ecole Normale Supérieure; and Yan Zhao, Tufts University.



Etienne R. Balibar

Doctorate Honoris Causa, University of Crete, Greece

Antoine Compagnon

Doctorate Honoris Causa, University of Bucharest

Souleymane Bachir Diagne

Institute of Advanced Studies of Nantes (IEA) Fellowship

Named Associate Member, Institute of Advanced Studies of Nantes (IEA)

Delivered Edward Asid Memorial Lecture, American University in Cairo

IRCPL Project/Working Group grant winner for “Medieval and Early Modern Struggles toward Humility, Virtue, and Truth”

Promoted to Officier des Arts et Lettres, République Française

Madeleine Dobie

A&S Catalyst Grant for “A Safer Online Public Square”

Pierre Force

IRCPL Joint Project/Working Group Grant for “Medieval and Early Modern Struggles toward Humility, Virtue, and Truth”

Elisabeth Ladenson

Public Voices Fellowship

Sophie Queuniet

Carnegie Mellon University Teaching Innovation Award for “French Online” (co-authored with Chris Jones, the recipient of the prize)

Emmanuelle Saada

Named Chevalier des Arts et Lettres, République Française

Eliza Zingesser

Columbia University/American Academy in Rome Sovern Fellowship