Joseph P. Derosier
Mouat Junior Professor of International Studies
Pronouns: he/him; il/lui
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Office: Room 112, World Affairs Center
Assistant Professor of Modern Languages and Literatures (French)
Chair of Medieval Studies
My teaching centers students, and aims to create spaces for students to explore francophone literature, film, and culture. My courses are designed as spaces for students to explore the stakes of literature in identity, nationalism, and history from the medieval period to the present. I have created classes ranging from “Genre and Gender in Romance” to “Literary Orientalisms from Marco Polo to the Present” and “For the Love of Film: Agnès Varda & Jacques Demy.” “Genre and Gender in Romance” focuses on how romans, a nascent literary genre at the turn of the 13th century, imagines desire, consent, gender, power, literary pasts and futures, and social and class structures. This course also explores how modern notions of the Middle Ages frame our relation to past and present political, social, and cultural norms. “Sexuality and Power in Maghrebin Literature and Culture,” another upper-level survey, focuses on Moroccan, Algerian, and diasporic novels, with a focus on sexuality and power, post-colonial affect and trauma, resisting norms, and coming out in 20th and 21st-century novels. I aim for my classes to give students a safe space to re-imagine how authors writing in French reimagine and rebuild the world they inhabit, how norms are created and resisted in literary and filmic works, and how we, as readers, interact with, respond to, and understand these texts.
My research focus is on the Francophone literary world at the turn of the 13th century, when French was used as a literary, mercantile, and colonial language from England to the Crusader kingdoms in the Levant. My current project insists upon romance being a political genre in late-twelfth and early-to-mid-thirteenth-century romances. This draws from queer theory and biopolitics, or the ways in which politics and government control, deploy, racialize, and understand bodies to analyze the very root of sovereignty and the fictions of the sovereign’s relation to governance in medieval literature and culture. I argue that medieval literature helps us understand that longer history of sovereignty’s relation to populations, bodies, and fictions of nation and nationhood, dismantling our current notions of biopolitical trajectories and francophone literary history. This trajectory of the Grail quest, as it is renewed with each new version of the Grail quest, allows us to trace how copies, adaptations, and continuations are acts of reading as much as they are acts of writing and composition. This project upsets trajectories of Grail romance as it has been understood, and rewrites the history of romance as a politically-engaged genre. This intervention aims to reposition romance as a genre that re-imagines political pasts and proposes alternate futures.
See this article about Prof. Derosier’s teaching: “Rewriting medieval French literature.”