French Studies, Catherine Dhavernas

Dr. Catherine Dhavernas has been appointed as Head of the Department of French Studies for a five-year term commencing on July 1, 2011.

Catherine Dhavernas has worked at Queen’s since 2003. She received a BA Honours (1989) and an MA (1993) in French Studies from Queen’s University. She received her Ph.D. (2000) in French Literature from the University of Western Ontario. From 2000-2002 she held a post-doctoral fellowship in Art History at the University of British Columbia. In 2002-2003 she was a research fellow at the Society for the Humanities at Cornell University.

A specialist in 20th century French literature and theory, Dr. Dhavernas focuses on issues that test and challenge the limits of representation across disciplines. Her book Le Destinataire à venir: L’individu à l’ère de la planéité moderne explores 20th century approaches to representing the past in literature, painting and photography. While the past today is often seen to be the source of an unwanted legacy, her book focuses on the significance of the “detail” in providing potential insight for the present through the philosophical perspective of Walter Benjamin. As part of her work on the limits of representation, Dr. Dhavernas’ research has looked at issues of collective and personal trauma. She has also collaborated with medical physicians to explore different approaches to communication in the case of experiences of illness and death. This particular work led to a series of conferences which addressed these issues across the disciplines of art, film, history, literature, medicine, philosophy, and photography. Dr. Dhavernas has also written numerous articles 19th and 20th century French authors including Marguerite Duras, Gustave Flaubert, Marcel Proust, Marguerite Yourcenar and French philosopher Sarah Kofman.

Dr. Dhavernas previously held the position of interim head of the Department of French Studies for one year and has been the director of the Atelier Meisel Humanities Centre for the past three years.