French film, television, and postwar popular culture; 20th- and 21st-century French literature; digital cultures; disability studies; foreign language pedagogy
20th/21st century French/Francophone literature, 20th/21st century American literature, medieval French/English literature/theatre, sexuality studies, comparative literature, cinema and visual cultures, queer theory, law, linguistics.
20th & 21st century American literature, film studies, critical theory, writing pedagogy.French cinema, structuralism, Gilles Deleuze, rock and roll, media theory, Surrealism & Dada.New York School Poets, New American Cinema, deconstruction, the Beats, phenomenology & existentialism, publication history, postmodernism, American studies, and New Journalism.
I am Assistant Professor of French and Italian literature in the European Studies department at San Diego State University. I hold a Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University and Masters’ degrees in Comparative Literature from Université Paris III Sorbonne Nouvelle and Université Paris VIII Vincennes-Saint-Denis. My dissertation (2017) explored the relationship between literature and politics in France and Italy during the 1950s and 1960s, focusing on writers Claude Simon and Carlo Emilio Gadda and using a sociological and sociocritical approach. My research interests include 20th and 21st century French, Francophone and Italian literature, the relation between politics and aesthetics, sociology of literature, translation studies and women’s and gender studies.
Specialist in 20th and 21st Century French and Francophone Literatures My dissertation, “Beur, Blanc, Black: The Banlieue Talks Back in Novels, Films, and Graphic Novels,” examines representations of the French banlieue in autobiographical and autofictive novels, films, and graphic novels published between 1999 and 2015 and produced by persons who grew up in the banlieue. With an eye to the specificity of each medium, I analyze how the authors leverage the unique creative possibilities of each medium to challenge the mythology of the cité as an urban ghetto.
I am drawn to distressing topics like atrocity, horror, trauma, and pain. I am interested in what makes these topics distressing, who is distressed by them, how, and why. I have published on American slavery, the Holocaust, and the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, and I regularly teach courses on extremity, violence, and war. My most recent work is informed by scholarship in the media studies, the digital humanities, and posthumanism. I am fascinated by the changing definitions of “reality” in this image-saturated, digital age.Brief descriptions of my published books are as follows: Against the Unspeakable: Complicity, the Holocaust, and Slavery in America (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2006) examines the widespread assumption that vast and violent events like the Holocaust, the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, and the institution of slavery in the United States are unrepresentable or “unspeakable.” My book explores manifestations of the unspeakable in literature, testimony, graphic novels, film, literary theory, and philosophy. As an alternative to the unspeakable, I posited an ethics of complicity (as distinct from culpability and collaboration), linking the writings of philosophers Primo Levi and Karl Jaspers to recent work on complicity by visual theorist Johanna Drucker and comparative literature and Apartheid scholar Mark Sanders in order to outline more productive lines of engagement with different histories of suffering. I have also published two volumes of edited essays that focus on “hip,” “cult,” or “underground” literature. The first, entitled Novels of the Contemporary Extreme (London: Continuum, 2006; reprinted 2008), is a collection of essays that I co-edited with Alain-Philippe Durand, now Professor of French and Director of the School of International Languages, Literatures, and Cultures at the University of Arizona, U.S.A. This book examines the phenomenon of extremity: the centrality of images of violence and wounding in contemporary global culture. It was the first to identify and describe this mode in literature, and included essays on works from North and South America, Europe, and the Middle East. The second, Bret Easton Ellis: American Psycho, Glamorama, and Lunar Park (London: Continuum, 2011) is the first edited collection of scholarly essays on this popular and polarising figure. Another direct result of my work on contemporary extreme fiction is an essay I published on French author Frédéric Beigbeder’s bilingual novel Windows on the World, which appeared in French translation in Frédéric Beigbeder et ses doubles (Rodopi, 2008). My current book project, “Disappear Here”: Violence after Generation X, examines violence in fiction after the 1980s and 1990s. During this period, the subcultural phenomenon Generation X redefined the relation of representation to its object, initiating a move away from the 20th century approach to violence as a founding trauma that fiction reflects and responds to. After Generation X, in the 21st century, “reality” is produced for television and marketed for consumption, and fiction—in the sense of fashioning and fabricating, as well as illusion and delusion—assumes an important but unexamined role in the creation, construction, and preservation of “real violence.” Some of the conceptual scaffolding of this project appears in my essay on fiction by Jonathan Safran Foer that appeared in Novel: A Forum on Fiction 45.2 (2012), in a special issue devoted to the contemporary novel. For a complete list of publications, see my C.V. on my webpage: http://www.uri.edu/faculty/mandel/Mandel.html
I’m a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow based at the University of St Andrews working on a project entitled ‘Constructing a Geopolitics of Nationhood: Belgium’s Scientific and Cultural Colonial Project (1830-1958)’, which investigates the role of (natural/’life’) sciences and museums for the Belgian colonial project in Sub-Saharan Africa. I am also finalising my first monograph Imagining Brussels: Memory and Diaspora in Francophone Fiction, which analyses the Belgian capital’s multifaceted postcolonial condition via its representations in novels by writers with roots in Morocco, the Congo-DRC, and Haiti and is under contract with Liverpool University Press (2021). I am the Editor of the Bulletin for Francophone Postcolonial Studies (the bi-annual journal of the Society for Francophone Postcolonial Studies) and a Volunteer Translator at the Wiener Holocaust Library in London (since 2015). I’m also a member of the Belgian Network for Medical History. At St Andrews, I’m also the Post-doc/ECR representative of the School’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) committee and freshly appointed to the steering committee of the c19c Cross Cultural Circa Nineteenth Century Research Centre. I’ve recently won an EDI Funding Award from St Andrews’ School of Modern Languages and will be working with a postgraduate assistant to develop resources and a database for best practices in alternative assessment methods in the Humanities and will post any updates here soon. Any questions, please feel free to get in touch via sa245(at)st-andrews.ac.uk
I recently completed my Ph.D. (FRQSC) in Comparative Literature at the Université de Montréal. My dissertation,” Geographies of Care and Posthuman Relationality in North American Fiction by Women,” explores how seven contemporary North-American novels (historical novels, contemporary fiction and dystopias) written by women illustrate the primacy of relationality. To achieve this goal, I use the notions of “geographies of care” and “posthuman care” critically to uncover, in the texts, gestures, and attitudes of care that facilitate, despite obstacles, the appropriation of social and intimate structures through the development of spaces and relationships of solidarity.I am now a postdoctoral fellow (SSHRC, CLC) at the Canadian Literature Centre (UAlberta), under the supervision of Marie Carrière. My project will further investigate the interconnections between posthuman care, ordinary ethics, and Canadian and Quebecois literatures.My main research interests are feminist care ethics, the posthuman framework, Canadian literature, ordinary ethics, and feminist/alternative space theory.
I have served as Department Head and Professor of French at New Mexico State University since July 2012, having previously worked at Calvin College as Professor of French, Chairman of the Department of French, Director of semester abroad programs to France and to Hungary, and Director of several January interim courses in France, Quebec, and Martinique. My long-standing scholarship interests consist of twentieth and twenty-first century literature, contemporary poets, and stylistics. I am the author of two books on French poets and numerous critical articles on French authors: André du Bouchet, Lorand Gaspar, Emmanuel Hocquard, Paul Claudel, Guillevic, Saint-John Perse, Frédéric Boyer, Mathieu Bénézet, and on the intersection of linguistics to the study of poetry. More recently, I am a proponent of the place of the humanities in university and public life. As an administrator, I seek to hone my skills and to expand the sphere of my activities.