Graduate Group Mission Statement

The newly formed Graduate Group in French, Italian and Germanic Studies (FIGS) is united by shared commitments about the relevance of literary and cultural studies for contemporary issues, in particular: migration and refugees; climate change and the environment; inclusiveness with respect to race, gender and sexuality; multilinguality; multiliteracy and new forms of media. Our primary mission is to provide linguistically and culturally informed learning and research in the traditions and practices of knowledge, cultural production, and critique in French, Italian, and Germanic languages. These are all global languages with millions of speakers worldwide and interwoven cultural and historical legacies.

We are defined by our commitment to foreign language and humanistic approaches to culture as necessary skills for serious and broadly informed research across the humanities. This commitment is as essential for utilizing foreign language resources unique to Penn—such as the holdings of the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books & Manuscripts—as they are pertinent to understanding current societal phenomena on a global scale. As we move inevitably into a world shaped by the climate emergency, strained or failing democratic institutions, radically increased numbers of displaced people, excessive wealth inequality, persistent racism, post-literate culture and new visual media, we find that a longer historical view provides us and our students with more apt comparisons and concepts for understanding current developments. The research and teaching of the standing faculty in FIGS underscore the relevance of cultural-historical knowledge for confronting the pressing issues of the twenty-first century.

FIGS Faculty

French and Francophone

Andrea Goulet, Professor of French and Francophone Studies, Graduate, Chair of Francophone, Italian and Germanic Studies (FIGS)

Scott Francis, Associate Professor of French and Francophone Studies, Undergraduate Chair

Corine Labridy, Assistant Professor of French and Francophone Studies

Philippe C. Met, Professor of French and Francophone Studies

Gerald J. Prince, Professor of French and Francophone Studies



Eva Del Soldato, Associate Professor of Italian Studies, Graduate Chair, FIGS.

Francesco Marco Aresu, Assistant Professor of Italian Studies



Vance Byrd, Presidential Associate Professor of German, with a secondary appointment in History of Art

Christina Frei, Executive Director of Language Instruction for the School of Arts & Sciences

Kathryn Hellerstein, Professor of Germanic Languages

Simon Richter, Class of 1942 Endowed Term Professor of German

Javier Samper Vendrell, Assistant Professor of German

Liliane Weissberg, Christopher H. Browne Distinguished Professor in the School of Arts & Sciences

Bethany Wiggin, Professor of German

Faculty with Secondary Appointments in FIGS

Mauro Calcagno, Associate Professor of Music, Graduate Group in Italian Studies
Opera studies; early modern music; critical theory and digital humanities

Ian Fleishman, Associate Professor of Francophone, Italian & Germanic Studies, Chair of Cinema and Media Studies (CIMS)

André Dombrowski, Frances Shapiro-Weitzenhoffer Associate Professor of 19th Century Art
19th-c. France and Germany, Empires, arts and material cultures

Ann Moyer, Professor of History; Director of the Center for Italian Studies
Renaissance Italy; European intellectual and cultural history

FIGS Graduate Group Affiliated Faculty

Rita Barnard, Professor of English and Comparative Literature
Postcolonial studies; African and South African literature; globalization; contemporary women writers

David Barnes, Associate Professor, History and Sociology of Science
Urban history, 19th-c. France/Europe, history of infectious diseases

Anne Berg, Assistant Professor, History
Modern Germany and Europe; Ecologies; waste management and genocide

Warren Breckman, Sheldon and Lucy Hackney Professor of History
Late and Early Modern European Intellectual History; Young Hegelians; contemporary theory

Sabina Bremmer, Asistant Professor of Philosophy
Kant, 19th-20th century European philosophy, philosophy of race and gender, aesthetics

Shira Brisman, Assistant Professor, History of Art
Early Modern Art, Reformation; German law and political theory 15th-18th c.

Max Cavitch, Associate Professor of English
Psychoanalytic Studies, African American and American Poetry, Cinema, French Theory

Roger Chartier, Annenberg Visiting Professor and Professor, Collège de France
Material Book History, Early Modern Europe, the Annales School

Jean-Christophe Cloutier, Associate Professor, English; Comparative Literature
Jack Kerouac, Franco- and Anglo-Canadian; speculative fictions

Loren Goldman, Assistant Professor of Political Science
German Idealism, Hegelianism, Western Marxism and American Pragmatism

Jeffrey Kallberg, William R. Kenan, Jr., Professor of Music
19th & 20th century music; Chopin; European, Scandinavian studies

David Young KimAssociate Professor of History of Art
Southern Renaissance art, transcultural exchange; French and Italian

Daniele Lorenzini, Associate Professor of Philosophy
Foucault, Post-Kantian European philosophy and social & political philosophy

Benjamin Nathans, Alan Charles Kors Endowed Term Associate Professor, History
Habermas, 18th-century France, Russian-Jewish historiography, modern Jewish history

Jean-Michel Rabaté, Professor of English and Comparative Literature
Modernism, Psychoanalysis, Contemporary Art; Beckett, Derrida; Theory

Karen Redrobe, Elliot and Roslyn Jaffe Endowed Professor in Film Studies
African Film and Media; Comparative Literature; LGBT; War and Film

Sophia RosenfeldWalter H. Annenberg Professor of History
European and American History since 1650; Age of Revolutions (esp. France); History of Democracy

Elly Truitt, Associate Professor, History and Sociology of Science
Circulation of scientific objects western Eurasia and north Africa, antiquity to early modern period.

Adelheid Voskuhl, Associate Professor, History and Sociology of Science
Early Modern and European Enlightenment, technocracy, philosophy, technology

David Wallace, Judith Rodin Professor of English
Medieval, early modern European literature, German and Dutch Mediterranean Studies, Dante