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Susan Kevra

Susan Kevra
Principal Senior Lecturer

French and American Studies, Québécois literature and culture, Comparative Literature and French travel writing

Office: Furman 227

Please email Professor Kevra to set up an appointment Email


Ph.D. University of Massachusetts
MA, University of Michigan
BA, Oberlin College

Professional Biography

In 2001, Professor Kevra moved from Azay-le-Rideau, France where she had spent the previous year traveling around France and Western Europe teaching dance and learning a thing or two about French hospitality, culture, food, and dance. Her interest in these topics carries over into the classroom, with music especially serving as a vehicle for understanding francophone cultures. She has organized a number of concerts on the Vanderbilt campus by the Quebecois traditional bands, Genticorum, Le Vent du Nord and Raz-de-Marée.

Prior to coming to Vanderbilt, Dr. Kevra taught at Marlboro College (Marlboro, VT), Amherst College (Amherst, MA), and the University of Massachusetts (Amherst, MA). She received her PhD from UMass-Amherst in 1998 in French and Francophone Literatures, and completed a doctoral dissertation entitled, “Body Images: Representations of the Body in the Novel of French Canada and Quebec.” During her time in Northern New England, she benefitted from the close proximity to Quebec to get to know the Belle province, along with making connections in the Franco-American communities of New England.

She has published a range of articles on the literature and culture of Quebec. In 2006, her translation of Gospel and Culture in an African Context: The Tetela-Kusu-Anamongo People and the Church by Joseph Onema Fama was published.

After participating as an NEH fellow Dr.Kevra in the summer of 2003 at the Newberry Library in Chicago studying French Travel Writing from the Americas (1500-1800), she went on to develop a Freshman Seminar, “The French Experience in the Americas” and an upper level literature course on French travel writing.

In recent years, Professor Kevra has developed a number of popular courses in French and in American Studies in which history, literature and popular culture intersect, including a Commons Seminar, “Bon Appétit: France and Its Cuisine,” “Food for Thought: American Foodways,” and “American Social History through Dance.”

Representative Publications

“From Raw to Cooked: Amy Tan’s “Fish Cheeks” through a Lévi-Straussian Lens,” Asian American Literature: Discourses & Pedagogies: Vol. 6, Article 5. 2015.

The Contradance: A Turning Point in the French History of Dance (Translation of Guilcher’s ” La contredanse: un tournant dans l’histoire française de la danse”) Square Dance History Project. 2015.

American Social History through Dance: A New Course at Vanderbilt University.” Ameriquests, Vol. 7, No. 2 (2010).

“The Mechanization of Motherhood: Images of Maternity in Quebec Women Writers of the Quiet Revolution.” Ameriquests, Vol. 4, No. 1 (2007)

Translation of Gospel and Culture in an African Context: The Tetela-Kusu-Anamongo People and the Church by Joseph Onema Fama. Nashville: The United Methodist Publishing House, 2006.

“Undressing the Text: The Function of Clothing in Gabrielle Roy’s Bonheur d’occasion” Québec Studies: Volume 37, Spring/Summer 2004.

“The Dance of Death in Nicole Brossard’s Le Désert mauve.” International Journal of Canadian Studies: Volume 29, Fall 2004.

“Indigestible Stew and Holy Piss: The Politics of Food in Rodolphe Girard’s Marie Calumet.” Québec Studies: Volume 27, Spring/Summer 1999. Republished in Essays On Canadian Writing: Issue 78, Winter 2003.

“Of Pigs and Princesses: Corporeal Currency in the ‘Meat Market’: Themes of Consumption in Les Trois petits cochons.” Women in French Studies: Volume 2, Fall 1994.