• Events
Jan 22
The Murderer Lives at Number 21 Embassy of France - La Maison Française 4101 Reservoir Road, NW - Washington, DC
Jan 22
Art After Slavery Columbia Maison Francaise East Gallery, Buell Hall 515 West 116th Street New York, NY 10027
Jan 1
Boris Chouvellon: an Artist in Residence Show Gallery 1515 N Gardner St Los Angeles, CA 90046

Centers of Excellence

Columbia University


Director of the Center : Professor Elisabeth Ladenson, Chair, Department of French
Professor Emmanuelle Saada, Chair, Center for French and Francophone Studies
Shanny Peer, Director, Maisonfrançaise


The Center of Excellence at Columbia University works through 3 key institutions: the Department of French, the Center for French and Francophone Studies, the Maisonfrançaise.  Through these institutions, the Center has forged ties with a number of departments and institutes at Columbia University and with centers at various universities across the nation.


The Pluridisciplinary Center works with a vast network of Departments at Columbia and other Centers in universities across the nation.  All of our events are co-sponsored.  This means that resources are pooled and costs for events are shared, whether the event is a talk by an individual scholar, a roundtable, or a colloquium.  Furthermore, co-sponsoring events usually means attracting a wider, more numerous and more diverse audience.  In a word, co-sponsoring insures the success of events organized by the Pluridisciplinary Center.

Within Columbia University, faculty and staff tied to the Pluridisciplinary Center work closely with faculty and staff in a number of Departments and Institutes.  A lecture committee meets regularly with representatives from the History Department, the English Department, German, Art History, Philosophy, the Program in Film Studies, the Department for Middle Eastern, South Asian and African Studies, the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society,  the Alliance Program, the Heyman Center for the Humanities, etc. 

Furthermore, the Pluridisciplinary Center has forged ties with a number of centers at various universities in the United States and in France.  We continue to organize events and speakers with New York University, Texas A&M and Yale University among others.

Two examples might help clarify how this structure works. 

1. In October, 2010, the Maisonfrançaise at Columbia hosted a symposium on “History and Literature: The State of Play.”  The event was meant to take stock of the current relations between literary fields and history in the United States and in Europe.  The event was a success, with over 200 people attending.  Most notable, however, was the diversity of scholars who participated.  The symposium included professors from Columbia’s French Department (Pierre, Force, Antoine Compagnon, Elisabeth Ladenson, Emmanuelle Saada), Professors from Columbia’s History Department (Matt Jones, Sam Moyn, Robert Paxton), Professor Dorothea Von Mucke (Columbia, German), and scholars from France, including Antoine Lilti (ENS), Judith Lyon-Caen and Dinah Ribard (EHESS).  This event could only have happened thanks to the interdisciplinary collaboration between departments and between universities that the Pluridisciplinary Center makes possible.

  1. 2. In May-June 2012, the Pluridisciplinary Center will participate in an international colloquium on the literary and cinematic representations of the Second World War in France.  This is a major colloquium which will take stock of both recent scholarly developments in the field as well as of recent works by writers such as Jonathan Littell, BoualemSansal, Morgan Sportès, Laurent Mauviginier, LydieSalvayre, YannickHaenel and others.   The conference will take place in Paris, including at Columbia’s Paris Global Center at Reid Hall, and is jointly organized by faculty from Texas A&M, Université Paris 3, Columbia University and University of Durham, UK.  Again, this conference will have been made possible only through the financial and institutional support provided by the Center.


  3. The research priorities of the Pluridisciplinary Center are numerous and are generated entirely by faculty research.  This said, three principal themes stand out.

  4. The relation between literature and history, as is evident from the two conferences listed above.  The Pluridisciplinary Center allows for the development of joint projects from Columbia’s French Department and History Department, and from faculty including: Antoine Compagnon, Pierre Force, Matt Jones, Samuel Moyn, Emmanuelle Saada, Joanna Stalnaker.

  5. The second research priority of the Pluridisciplinary Center is in the field of colonial and post-colonial studies.  The Department of French at Columbia has one of the strongest programs in colonial and post-colonial studies, with faculty including Vincent Debaene, BachirDiagne, Madeleine Dobie and Emmanuelle Saada.  The field of colonial studies is interdisciplinary by its very nature and the faculty in French work closely with other Columbia scholars such Gil Anidjar, MamadouDiouf, Kaiama Glover, GayatriSpivak, Reinhold Martin and David Scott.  A recent example of the successful interdisciplinary collaboration can be found in the recent conference on Franz Fanon, marking the 50th anniversary of Fanon’s death and exploring new potentials to be found in Fanon’s work. 

  6. Finally, working with the Department of French, the Pluridisciplinary Center at Columbia remains committed to the teaching of the French language at all levels.  One example of this is the annual conference of the American Association of Teachers of French, held at the Maisonfrançaise every January.  2012’s conference will focus on “francophone Africa” and will once again bring together faculty from Columbia along with teachers of French to explore the cultural wealth of francophone Africa along with some of the challenges facing the teaching of French in the United States.


  8. http://www.columbia.edu/cu/french/

  9. French and Romance Philosophy                                     
    1150 Amsterdam Ave
    515 Philosophy Hall, FifthFloor
    New York, NY 10027