I am a scholar of 20th- and 21st-century French literature and culture, with specific interests in queer and HIV studies, as well as Holocaust studies. Some of my recent research has focused on the questions community and republican universalism, dealing with issues such as the engagement of urban spaces by minoritized groups, the cultural and political uses of "the Republic," representations of collective disasters (AIDS, the Holocaust), masculinity, the concepts of neighborhood and family, etc.
My latest book is titled The Nearness of Others: Searching for Tact and Contact in the Age of HIV. I believe that fear of contact is a defining characteristic of modern Western culture, and that this fear is codified through tact, a policing practice designed to deal with social discomfort and with the unsettling awareness of the boundaries separating norms and bodies. But I also think that tact may be reclaimed to envision new forms of sociality. With particular emphasis on HIV disclosure, I examine the ways in which we may use tact to accept, rather than avoid, risky contact and to reappraise the cultural meanings of HIV/AIDS.
A new project picks up where The Nearness of Others left off. In that book, I wondered what happens to reason when the body touches it and reminds it of its lost corporeality. I now take my investigation further with Think Strange and ask what it means to respond to calls one doesn’t understand. I turn for answers to queer films from several countries—France, but also Thailand, Taiwan, Singapore, the Philippines, the U.S… These works of art let us examine how the dual experience of wonderment and sensuality can make thought more receptive to its own strangeness, and people hospitable to actual strangers.
This line of inquiry also dovetails with my increasing interest in transnational Asian studies, particularly in colonial Indochina and contemporary Chinese migrations.
Recent and Selected Publications
The Nearness of Others: Searching for Tact and Contact in the Age of HIV. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2014.
Les revenantes: Charlotte Delbo, la voix d?une communauté à jamais déportée. Ed. with Sharon Marquart. Toulouse : Presses universitaires du Mirail, 2011.
My Father and I: The Marais and the Queerness of Community. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2009.
AIDS in French Culture: Social Ills, Literary Cures. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2001.
Recent articles on masculinity, gay shame, AIDS, and the Holocaust.
Recent graduate courses taught:
Romance Languages 686: Introduction to LGBTQ Studies
French 855: Dysclosure
French 855: Thinking (in) the Plural
French 656: Writing (After) Auschwitz
French 855: Universalism and Its Discontents
French 656: The Marais: Memory and Urban Space
RLL 500/French 656: Writing with Others: The Ethics of Personal Writing
Recent undergraduate courses taught:
French 274: Streets
French 350: Indochina and the Power of Loss
French 350: Waiting
French 270: Disease and Community
French 274: Neighborhoods and Other Spaces
French 374: The Extreme Right in France
French 374: The Public, the Private,and the Universal
French 378: Deportation, Holocaust, and the Invention of Post-War France
French 379: AIDS in France: Literature and Politics
French 379: Families: Stories of Sex and Violence
French 350: Living With the Past
*French 466: Gay Male Cultures
*combined graduate and undergraduate course