Deborah Jenson

Deborah Jenson

Professor of Romance Studies

External address: 112 Language Center, Box 90257, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708
Internal address: 205 Language Center, Box 90257, Durham, NC 27708-0257
Phone: (919) 660-3122
Office Hours: 

Thursdays 1-3; 1-2 pm in the Perk Café
2-3 pm in 112 Languages

A scholar of "long 19th century" French and Caribbean literature and culture, I also work in the fields of cognitive literary studies and health humanities. Monographs, edited volumes, editions, and translations include: Beyond the Slave Narrative: Politics, Sex, and Manuscripts in the Haitian Revolution; Trauma and Its Representations: The Social Life of Mimesis in Post-Revolutionary France; Poetry of Haitian Independence (with D. Kadish and N. Shapiro); Unconscious Dominions: Psychoanalysis, Colonial Trauma, and Global Sovereignty (with W. Anderson and R. Keller); Sarah, A Colonial Novella (with D. Kadish); and "Coming to Writing" and Other Essays by Hélène Cixous. A co-authored Global Health book on Trauma and Humanitarian Emergency in Haiti and Nepal is close to completion, as well as a monograph, Essays on Mimesis: From Marx to Mirror Neurons. An additional monograph project, Phenomenological Courage: Afro-Caribbean Literary Challenges to the Epistemic Brain in Naturalist Modernity, is in process. I have previously served as the director of the Franklin Humanities Institute and the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies. Founder and co-director of the Health Humanities Lab, my recent courses have included "Storytelling in Medicine and Health," and "Flaubert's Brain: Neurohumanities." I'm currently co-editing with Len White, Marco Iacoboni, and my invaluable non-editor colleague and former French student Julie Uchitel, a Frontiers in Cognitive Neuroscience topic, Representation in Neuroscience and Humanities .


  • Ph.D., Harvard University 1994

  • M.A., University of Paris (France) 1985

  • B.A., Bowdoin College 1983

Kadish, D., et al. Poetry of the Haitian Independence. Translated by N. Shapiro, Yale University Press, 2015.

Jenson, Deborah, et al. Globalizing the Unconscious. 2011.

Anderson, Deborah Jenson with Warwick, and Richard E. Keller. Unconscious Dominions: Psychoanalysis, Colonial Trauma, and Global Sovereignties. Duke University Press, 2011, pp. 328–328.

Jenson, Deborah, and Doris Kadish. Sarah, An English Translation. MLA Editions, 2008.

Jenson, D., and D. Kadish. Sarah, The Original French Text. 2008.

Cixous, H. "Coming to Writing" and Other Essays by Hélène Cixous. Edited by D. Jenson, Translated by D. Jenson, et al., Harvard University Press, 1992.

Jenson, D. “Toussaint Louverture, genio 'cimarrôn' y multimodial.” Toussaint Louverture: Repensar Un Icono, edited by M. Past and N. M. Léger, Casa del Caribe, 2015, pp. 217–30.

Jenson, Deborah, and Lesley Curtis. “The Haitian Revolution.” The Encyclopedia of Race and Racism, edited by Patrick Mason, vol. 2, Gale, 2013, pp. 277–84.

Jenson, Deborah. “Placing Haiti in Geopsychoanalytic Space: Toward a Postcolonial Concept of Traumatic Mimesis.” Unconscious Dominions: Psychoanalysis, Trauma, and Sovereignty, 2011.

Jenson, Deborah. “Surrealism and the Avant Garde Novel, and The Decadent Novel.” The Blackwell Encyclopedia of the Novel, 2011.

Jenson, Deborah. “The Writing of Disaster in Haiti: Signifying Cataclysm from Slave Revolution to Earth Quake.” Haiti Rising, edited by Martin Munro, Liverpool University Press, 2010, pp. 103–12.

Jenson, Deborah. “Francophone World Literature (Littérature-monde) Cosmopolitanism, and Decadence: ‘Citizen of the World’ without the Citizen?Transnational French Studies: Postcolonialism and Littérature-Monde, edited by Alec Hargreaves, Liverpool University Press, 2010, pp. 15–35.

Jenson, D. “Francophone World Literature (Littérature-monde), Cosmopolitanism and Decadence: 'Citizen of the World' without the Citizen?Transnational French Studies : Postcolonialism and Littérature-Monde, edited by A. Hargreaves et al., vol. 1, Liverpool University Press, 2010, pp. 15–35.

Jenson, Deborah. “Mirror Revolutions: Ourika and Saint-Domingue.” "Approaches to Teaching Claire de Duras’s ‘Ourika,’” Ed. Mary Ellen Birkett and Christopher Rivers (New York: Modern Language Editions, 2009) Pp.45-50, 2009.

Miller, Deborah Jenson with Christopher L. “Historical Timeline.” Approaches to Teaching Claire de Duras’s ‘Ourika,’” Ed. Mary Ellen Birkett and Christopher Rivers (New York: Modern Language Editions, MLA Editions, 2009) Pp.12-17, 2009.

Jenson, Deborah. “Toussaint Louverture, Spin Doctor? Launching the Haitian Revolution in the French Media.” Tree of Liberty: Legacies of the Haitian Revolution in the Atlantic World, University of Virginia Press, 2008, pp. 41–62.


Jenson, Deborah. Living by Metaphor in the Haitian Revolution: Tigers and Cognitive Theory. Edited by Julia Gaffield, University of Virginia Press, 2016.

Jenson, D. “Sources and interpretations jean-jacques dessalines and the African character of the haitian revolution.” William and Mary Quarterly, vol. 69, no. 3, July 2012, pp. 615–38. Scopus, doi:10.5309/willmaryquar.69.3.0615. Full Text Open Access Copy

Crichlow, P., et al. “Introduction: Caribbean Entanglements in Times of Crises.” The Global South, vol. 6, no. 1, Indiana University Press, 2012, pp. 1–1. Crossref, doi:10.2979/globalsouth.6.1.1. Full Text Open Access Copy

Jenson, Deborah, and Laurent Dubois. “Humanities in the Lab: Rethinking Haitian Studies.” Diversity and Democracy: Civic Learning for Shared Futures, vol. 15, 2012.

Jenson, Andra H. “Haiti Unbound: A Spiralist Challenge to the Postcolonial Canon, by Kamaia L. Glover.” Research in African Literatures, vol. 43, no. 3, Indiana University Press, 2012, pp. 135–135. Crossref, doi:10.2979/reseafrilite.43.3.135. Full Text Open Access Copy

Jenson, D. Kidnapped Narratives: Mobility without Autonomy and the Nation/Novel Analogy. Nov. 2011, pp. 369–86. Scopus, doi:10.1002/9781444342789.ch23. Full Text Open Access Copy

Jenson, Deborah, et al. “Cholera in Haiti and other Caribbean regions, 19th century.Emerging Infectious Diseases, vol. 17, no. 11, Nov. 2011, pp. 2130–35. Epmc, doi:10.3201/eid1711.110958. Full Text Open Access Copy

Jenson, Deborah, and Marco Iacoboni. “Literary Biomimesis: Mirror Neurons and the Ontological Priority of Representation.” California Italian Studies, 2011. Open Access Copy

Jenson, Deborah. “Colonialism, Race, and the French Romantic Imagination.” Interventions International Journal of Postcolonial Studies, vol. 13, no. 2, ROUTLEDGE JOURNALS, TAYLOR & FRANCIS LTD, Jan. 2011, pp. 328–30.


Jenson, D., et al. “The Haiti Issue: 1804 and Nineteenth-Century French Studies.” Yale French Studies, edited by D. Jenson, no. 107, Yale UP, 2005.

Szabo, V., et al. 19th-Century Caribbean Cholera Timemap. 2011.

Jenson, D., and L. Dubois. “Haiti Can Be Rich Again.” New York Times, 8 Jan. 2012.

Jenson, D. “From the kidnapping(s) of the Louvertures to the alleged kidnapping of aristide: Legacies of slavery in the post/colonial world.” Yale French Studies, vol. 107, 1 Jan. 2005, pp. 162–86. Scopus, doi:10.2307/4149316. Full Text

Jenson, Deborah. “The Haiti Issue.” Yale French Studies, vol. 107, 2005.

Haiti: History Embedded in Amber. Director. (2011)

24 Duke faculty, graduate students, and undergraduates in the FHI Haiti Lab worked with Haitian artist Edouard Duval-Carrié to design representations of Haitian culture, especially post-earthquake culture, embedded in amber-like resin blocks. Durham metal sculptor Andrew Preiss of the ARP Design Studio designed the frame and lighting for the permanent installation of the artwork in the Ahmadiev Family Lecture Hall of the Franklin Humanities Institute in Bay 4 of Smith Warehouse, Duke University. The website features "story blocks" detailing the individual artist's narrative accounts of their work.