Gender and Sexuality

Mort patriarchat wording, an image of an androgynous person, and a bathroom sign labeled men and women and an lgbt bakery make up a collage of photographs on a light blue background

With Gender and Sexuality at the core of all areas of the Humanities, French & Italian Studies have close links to gender studies. Since the middle ages, the French and Italians have had much to say about women, feminism, masculinity, transgender, intersex, queerness, and sexuality. Graduate students interested in gender and sexuality will find an extremely vibrant intellectual home in FRIT. We study gender in all kinds of texts from all periods, from the middle ages to the 21st century, in literature, theory, film, TV, journalism, magazines, digital media, bandes dessinées, performance, art, and other cultural artifacts. We think about gender in France, in Italy, in the Maghreb, in the Caribbean, in Subsaharan Africa, and in other parts of the Italian/French-speaking world. Gender and sexuality are woven throughout all of our graduate courses, and some courses take gender as their focus. We routinely place theories of gender into dialogue with literature and other cultural artifacts to produce cutting-edge interpretations of gender constructs in Italian- and French-speaking contexts. We believe that gender and sexuality can be fruitfully placed into dialogue with French and Italian Studies, producing new ways of thinking for both disciplines.

Faculty and PhD students are working on major research projects related to gender in the French banlieue, the history of transgender as a category in France (50s to today), gender and affect theory, queer French film in the 21st century, Black African feminism(s), women's gender performance  in Senegal and the Senegalese diaspora, sexuality and capitalism in the 19th century, gender and animality/interspecies love, rural queerness in France today, early modern transgender youth, queer French documentary, the closet in French film/media/literature/culture, African intersectionalities, queer Maghrebi literature, and many others. 

The French PhD and Italian MA are complemented by the interdisciplinary Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies (GSWS) program, which offers an MA and a PhD certificate and broad courses such as feminist theory, queer theory, masculinities in theory and practice, intersectionality, disability, transgender studies, gender and the global, gendered embodiment, and many others. A French faculty member recently served for two terms as director of the program. Through GSWS, students become part of an interdisciplinary intellectual community centered on gender. The program offers fellowships in LGBTQ+ studies and a graduate organization (GSO). 

Because gender studies is a much more widespread approach in North America than in many parts of the world, potential students from outside North America may find our program an especially exciting intellectual home conducive to their interests. PhD students will leave our program at the cutting-edge of French/Francophone studies as well as gender/sexuality studies. For those seeking academic jobs, gender is frequently mentioned as a desired specialty or subspecialty. Research on gender can also be excellent preparation for other careers.

The University provides strong support for its LGBTQIA+ members and the city offers many opportunities for the LGBTQIA+ community, including an Equality Center and a film festival in the fall.

Recent events in the Gender and Sexuality Network

For a list of recent events, please click here. 

Sample Graduate Courses

French Feminisms, spring 2021, Kaliane Ung

Animality, Gender, Sexuality, spring 2020, Kaliane Ung

French Studies, Gender Studies, fall 2019, Todd Reeser

The Body in the Middle Ages, fall 2018, Renate Blumenfeld-Kosinski

Gender, Sexuality, Renaissance, fall 2018, spring 2023, Todd Reeser

Sexual and Economic Exchanges in the Early 19th Century, Giuseppina Mecchia

Regen(d)erating the Novel with Proust and Gide, Giuseppina Mecchia

Masculinities in Theory and Practice, Todd Reeser (through GSWS)

Current PhD Students currently working in this Network

Don Joseph, Caitlin Dahl, Yacine Chemssi, Florian Fricard, Brendan Ezvan

Alums in this Network

Cole Cridlin, Karen Adams, Eleonore Bertrand, Sylvia Grove, Andrea Jonsson, Maeva Mateos, Jennifer Lawrence, Amy Romanowski, Robert Fagley, Zach Moir, Pat Nikiema, Jonathan Devine

Sample Undergraduate Courses

Gender, Sexuality, and French Thought (taught in English), Todd Reeser (offered regularly)

Ailing Bodies, Kaliane Ung

Kings & Queens, Chloe Hogg

Euro chic: The Invention of Fashion, Giuseppina Mecchia

French Kiss, multiple instructors, offered every semester

Gender & Sexuality in 21st Century France (taught in French), Todd Reeser

Modern French Novel (Gender/Sexuality focus), multiple instructors

French Theatre Workshop, Kaliane Ung (Moliere's L'Ecole des femmes)

Gender and Migration Untangled: Italy and Europe, spring 2020, Martina Cvajner 

Sample Undergraduate Research Projects

Sexuality and the Reception of Plato's androgyne, research cluster with Todd Reeser (3 students including two first-year students)

Julia Hartigan, Honors Thesis: "Les écrivaines haïtiennes et la migration genrée: réconcilier un passé violent et l'identité nationale" (John Walsh, dir.), Spring 2019

Amanda Parent, Honors Thesis, "Les négociations du travail sexuel dans les médias français contemporains" (Todd Reeser, dir.), Fall 2021


Network Coordinator: Todd Reeser