Introduction

Academic Profile

Professor (rank), Dept. of Modern Languages & Cultures, Otterbein U, Westerville, OH
PhD, French (minors: Spanish and Critical Theory), Florida State U, Tallahassee,1999
MA, French, Tulane U, New Orleans, 1991; BA, French (Spanish), U of South Florida, Tampa, 1989

Because I was born in Brazil, students often ask me how I became a professor of French. The answer is perhaps as uncanny (unheimlich, as Freud would term it) as the question, for it lies in the French colonial history of my Brazilian hometown and state — São Luís, Maranhão — settled by Daniel de la Touche, Lord of La Ravardière, in 1612.1 Named after Louis IX (1214–70), the only canonized French king (r. 1226–70), Saint Louys (Isle de Maragnan) was "once upon a time" the Brazilian capital of Equinoxial France (La France équinoxiale) before coming under Portuguese rule. The historical, sculptural, and architectural vestiges of a phantasmatic France in Brazil have apparently left an impression on my psyche, galvanized my interest in (medieval) French language, literature, and history, and the relationships between them. They have accordingly sparked my interest in the Crusades, modern colonial and post-colonial transnational encounters, and the attendant issues of identity, race, gender, and sexuality. What is even more uncanny is that, despite the imaginary and symbolic ways in which I situate myself within French/francophone culture, the real (in Lacanian terms) also corrects my fantasy. It has been none the less through the study of the French language, literature, and culture that I have rediscovered my Brazilianness, my Frenchness, my Hispanicness, and, not least, my Americanness.

1 Overshadowed by the history of the Portuguese colonization of Brazil, my hometown's French colonial past is as uncanny as the fact that French is my second "native" language. As Freud suggests, most personal/national stories conceal something "other" (unheimlich) which ineluctably returns no matter how long it may have been kept "hidden" (heimlich); Sigmund Freud, "Das Unheimliche", in Imago, 5/6 (1919), 297–324.

Major Teaching and Research Interests

Besides teaching language and literature courses, I have regularly held a seminar on the question of the other in world literature, art, and cinema and a dyad on the concept of power and culture in the Middle Ages, whose most significant learning outcome lies in students understanding (1) the diversity of the global and local constituencies they will encounter in life and work situations and (2) the complexity of the questions that can unite them towards a common purpose.

I am particularly interested in literature, art, and cinema as representations of interstitial identities, especially in the context of text and paratext; image and text; author and reader; self and other; masculine and feminine; Black and White; colonial and postcolonial; the West and the Orient, the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, for example. I am intrigued, on the one hand, by how text, art, film, myth, and culture construct and, at the same time, deconstruct our sense of identity in psychic, social, cultural, or spatial terms. On the other, I can understand how literature, art, and film mirror, tell, and retell the reality of what it means to exist in the in-between of diverse cultural, ethnic, racial, religious, and socio-economic contexts, accordingly informing us on how to negotiate our way through.

Specialisms

General relationships: medieval linguistic, cultural, ethnic, and confessional frames of identity: exonyms, autonyms, and ethnonyms; Frankish, Byzantine, and Seljuk (Turkish) cross-cultural relations; constructions of power and culture: reconfigurations of translatio studii et imperii, relations between imperium (empire) and studium (culture and knowledge); medieval concept of clergie (clerical culture or knowledge); medievalisms: both medieval literature and culture and the nineteenth- and twentieth-century frameworks of analysis of medieval literature and culture; the crusades; medieval proto-colonialism and the modern "French" stripe of colonialism; the "other" in literature and art in medieval and modern contexts, and in modern French cinema; intermediality in political and cultural identification and in individual identity formation; the Mediterranean as a geo-political maritime landmark and as a category of analysis; medieval education and the liberal arts; paratextuality in medieval and modern literature; orientalism in medieval and modern literature; existentialism in modern French/francophone literature; cross-cultural and transcultural contact in medieval and modern literature and culture

Specific relationships: oral, manuscript, textual, and visual traditions: mouvance and variance, manuscript and paratext in medieval "literature" and culture; "text" and paratext, especially the proem, the prologue in medieval works, and the (editorial and/or authorial) peritext in modern visual and literary contexts;  narratology and film: point of view and the gaze (le regard), diegetic levels, especially frame and flashback sequences; framing and point of view, the self-defined look and the Other's gaze (i.e., the look and the gaze from Sartre's, Mulvey's, and Lacan's points of view); literature and art: image and text, art and photography, Lacan's concept of "photo-graphié", author's photograph or self-portrait and (its) autobiographical text-value, painted and written self-portraiture; literature, myth, race, and gender: the French Antigone, the Black Orpheus, the (Mexican concept of) malinche, the (Brazilian concept of the) mulata and the great lady; literature, minority discourse, and grand narratives: sketch-book and autobiography, novel and diaristic narrative, the novel and exemplum, the novel, kitsch, and cliché, the novel and existentialism and colonialism; literature and psychoanalysis: the Sartrean and Lacanian concepts of the gaze (le regard), Freud's, Lacan's, and Kristeva's notion of the uncanny (das Unheimliche), the Cixousian propre ([the realm of the] clean, proper, selfsame), Lacan's "real world" (le monde) and the "other scene" which Freud called "ein anderer Schauplatz"; (the split between) the eye and the gaze (in the subject's scopic field), metonymy and metaphor (in the subject's discursive field), and their implications in the constitution of the subject; the sexualization, racialization, colonization, malinchization, and nomadization of the Other

Authorial and characterological relationships: Chrétien de Troyes, Érec, Cligés, King Arthur (of the French and the English), and (the medieval French) avatars of Alexander the Great; Christine de Pizan and the ladies of the Cité des dames; François Rabelais, Gargantua, and Pantagruel; Gustave Flaubert, Emma Bovary, and Mademoiselle de La Vallière; Juan Valera (y Alcalá Galiano), Pepita Jiménez, and Émile Zola; Teresa de la Parra (Ana Teresa Parra Sanojo), Ifigenia, and Doña Marina; Ferdinand Oyono, the colonial (house)boy, Frantz Fanon and the Fanonian Black subject, Jean-Paul Sartre and Black Orpheus/Orphée noir; Sigmund Freud, Jacques Lacan, Julia Kristeva; Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera; Clarice Lispector, G. H., and Hélène Cixous; Emmanuel Lévinas; Claire Denis and the colonial boy

Theoretical relationships: literary and filmic narratology; paratextuality; manuscript and textual studies; classical and medieval reception studies; (medieval) philology and codicology; literary-historical revisionism; psychoanalytical and feminist theory; past-tense aspect (imparfait and passé composé), lexical and grammatical aspect; speaking and writing; classroom and online (and hybrid) teaching theory and practice