Modernism, Postmodernism & Contemporaneity

The rise of modern romance literatures, like the rise of Europe’s centralizing nation-states and their colonial projects in Africa, Asia, and the Americas, unfolded simultaneously with the development of modern science and technology as well as the gradual articulation of a secular culture of so-called “universal values.”  The age of the great European migrations to other continents slowly gave way to the counter-migrations of indigenous and postcolonial communities back to the metropolis.  In the contemporary period, the new transoceanic space composed of multiple centers and peripheries has witnessed the flourishing of artists who variously call themselves “diasporic,” “transnational,” “cosmopolitan,” and “postnational” – or else uphold the claims of emergent nation-states or sub-state nations – and who have created some of the finest works of the imagination studied at Duke and elsewhere.

These conflicted and multifarious versions of modernity are in keeping with Duke’s mission to foster teaching and scholarship that remain positioned at the symbolic (and geographical) frontiers of knowledge.  The Department takes seriously Néstor García Canclini’s injunction that we theorize the history of modern Eurocentric cultures as a “sinuous process” in which discrepancies in the degree of cultural modernization found among discrete locations express the socio-economic heterogeneity produced along ethnic, gender, and class lines.  But it also takes seriously Dipesh Chrakrabarty’s claim that each European nation-state which participated in the colonization of Africa, Asia, and the Americas shows at its core the same internal inconsistencies that we see between metropolitan centers and colonial peripheries.  These differences are studied by our faculty by looking at a myriad representations and counter-representations that span print, visual, and digital media.

Very few other programs in the U.S. – indeed in the world – have implemented curricula in which a broad cross-section of European and non-European modernities are showcased year in and year out.  Thus, in the study of modern and contemporary Italian literature and culture at Duke, attention to the industrialized north and its connections to avant-garde movements is complemented by the presentation of ongoing debates around the “southern question.”  Here one can also study the rise of Spain’s plurinational literatures as a belated response to the loss of Latin American markets in the nineteenth century, or follow globalization’s fostering of both international networks of solidarity among indigenous groups and the transnational circulation of capital in what has been called Spain’s Second Conquest of Latin American markets.  Finally, one may find courses that trace the mutations of social practices and multiculturalist platforms (such as the recent littérature-monde manifesto) in la France métropolitaine vis-à-vis its ultra-peripheral Caribbean departments and former colonies.  The cumulative picture that emerges from these multiple engagements attests to the versatility or our faculty and the capaciousness of Romance Studies.


Laurent Dubois, Professor of Romance Studies

Office: 213 Language Center, Durham, NC 27708

Phone: (919) 660-3112

I am a specialist on the history and culture of the Atlantic world, with a focus on the Caribbean and particularly Haiti. I am the faculty director of the Forum for Scholars and Publics at Duke University, and write for magazines including the New Republic, Sports Illustrated, and the New Yorker. I... Full Profile »

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Esther Leah Gabara, E. Blake Byrne Associate Professor of Romance Studies

Office: 212 Language Center, Department of Romance Studies, Durham, NC 27708-0257

Phone: (919) 660-3100

Esther Gabara works with art, literature, and visual culture from modern and contemporary Latin America. Central issues in her research are the relationship between ethics and aesthetics, theories and practices of non-mainstream modernisms, and representations of race and gender. Her teaching... Full Profile »

Michael Hardt, Professor of Literature

Office: 106 Friedl Building, Buchanan and Trinity, Durham, NC 27708-0670

Phone: (919) 684-3408

Michael Hardt's writings explore the new forms of domination in the contemporary world as well as the social movements and other forces of liberation that resist them. In the Empire trilogy -- Empire (2000), Multitude (2004), and Commonwealth(2009) -- he and Antonio Negri investigate the political... Full Profile »

Fredric Jameson, Knut Schmidt Nielsen Professor of Comparative Literature

Office: 101 Friedl Bldg, 1316 Campus Drive Box 90670, Durham, NC 27708

Phone: (919) 684-4155

Knut Schmidt-Nielsen Professor of Comparative Literature, Professor of Romance Studies (French), and Director of the Center for Critical Theory. Professor Jameson received his Ph.D. from Yale in 1959 and taught at Harvard, Yale, and the University of California before coming to Duke in 1985. He...

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Deborah Jenson, Professor of Romance Studies

Office: 112 Language Center, Box 90257, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708

Phone: (919) 660-3122

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... Full Profile »

Walter Mignolo, William H. Wannamaker Professor of Romance Studies in Trinity College of Arts and Sciences

Office: 125B Friedl Building, Box 90670, Durham, NC 27708

Phone: (919) 668-1949


Mignolo’s research and teaching have been devoted, in the past 30 years, to understanding and unraveling the historical foundation of the modern/colonial world system and imaginary since 1500...

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Claudia Milian, Associate Professor in the Department of Romance Studies

Office: 217C Language Ctr, Box 90257, Durham, NC 27708

Phone: (919) 660-3127

Claudia Milian, a scholar of Latino/a Studies, works in comparative and interdisciplinary studies and forges intersections among the vast intellectual traditions of Latina/o Studies, Latin American Studies, African American Studies, southern studies, and hemispheric American Studies. Her areas of... Full Profile »

Toril Moi, James B. Duke Professor of Literature

Office: 114 S. Buchanan Boulevard, B184 Smith Warehouse, Durham, NC 27708-0403

Phone: (919) 668-6407

Toril Moi has three broad areas of interest: feminist theory and women's writing; the intersection of literature, philosophy and aesthetics; and ordinary language philosophy in the tradition of Wittgenstein, Cavell and Austin.

Toril Moi also works on theater. In her work on literature... Full Profile »

José María Rodríguez García, Associate Professor in the Department of Romance Studies

Office: 214 Language Center, Durham, NC 27708

Phone: (919) 660-3113

Global Iberia/ Oceanic Americas; cosmopolitanism and autochthony; history of lyric forms and of literary translation; Galicia's political-intellectual history; Colombia's political-intellectual history; late/ belated Hispanic and transnational modernisms, esp. Zambrano, Tàpies & Paz Full Profile »

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Richard Rosa, Associate Professor of Romance Studies

Office: 205 Language Center, Durham, NC 27708

Phone: (919) 660-3100

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Anne-Gaelle Saliot, Assistant Professor of Romance Studies

Office: 219A Language Center, Durham, NC 27708

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Stephanie Sieburth, Professor of Romance Studies

Office: 219D Language Center, Durham, NC 27708

Phone: (919) 660-3125

19th and 20th Centuries Spanish and Latin, American Literature and Culture, Gender Studies, Mass Culture and Psychology Full Profile »

Antonio Viego, Associate Professor of Literature

Office: Program In Literature/101 Ernestine Friedl Building, East Campus/box 90670, Durham, NC 27708-0670

Phone: (919) 668-2687

Latino Studies; Ethnic Studies; Queer/Lesbian/Gay Studies; Twentieth Century American Literatures; Critical Race Theory; Chicana Feminist Theory; Comparative Ethnicities; Lacanian Psychoanalytic Theory Full Profile »

Anne Garreta, Research Professor of Literature

Office: 101D Friedl Bldg, Literature Program, Durham, NC 27708

Phone: (919) 668-5389

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David F. Bell, Professor with Tenure

Office: 209 Language Center, Durham, NC 27708

Phone: (919) 660-3100

Nineteenth-century French literature and culture; critical theory; literature and science; literature and technology. Full Profile »

Deborah Reisinger, Assistant Professor of the Practice of Romance Studies

Office: 06 Language Center, Durham, NC 27708-0257

Phone: (919) 660-2420

Deb Reisinger, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of the Practice in Romance Studies, affiliate faculty in the Duke Global Health Institute and Associate Director of the Markets and Management Studies program.

Reisinger teaches courses in French for Specific Purposes, including global...

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Roberto Maria Dainotto, Professor of Romance Studies

Office: 217A Language Center, Box 90257, Durham, NC 27708

Modern and contemporary Italian culture. Publications include Place in Literature: Regions, Cultures, Communities (Cornell UP, 2000); Europe (in Theory) (Duke UP, 2007); The Mafia: A Cultural History (Reaction Books, 2015);  and the edited volume ... Full Profile »