Dr. Laurence Clerfeuille, with a doctorate from the University of Southern California, has been named Assistant Professor of Modern Languages, French, at Saint Michael's College. Her dissertation, Revolts Without Witness, is an examination of revolution in Haitian literature.
"I was demonstrating that Haitian resistance, that existed during revolutionary times and made Haiti the first independent Caribbean nation, has a long history and has continued, although it is rarely recognized," she said.
Dr. Clerfeuille said literature shows what written history has failed to show about Haitian resistance to oppression. Her research now includes French literature in the Caribbean, Quebec, Africa, Francophone Literatures and Cultures in general.
"I want to show students the other side of Africa, for instance, where we know about poverty and misery and war, but not about the artistic environment," she said.
"I very much appreciate the American system of liberal arts education, of guiding students, giving them the tools so that they can do the work of discovery," she said. This is very different from the French method of the professor on a pedestal, she said. "I was also attracted to this area which seems wonderful, and is only two hours from a French-speaking world."
Dr. Clerfeuille earned her first degree, Maîtrise in English, from the Université Michel de Montaigne, in Bordeaux, France, in 2000, with a thesis titled "Gated Communities: America's Future?" She earned a master's degree in French from Tulane University in 2004; a master's in French from the University of South California in 2006, with a thesis titled, "Listening to Silences from Senegalese Women in Germaine de Staël's Mirza, Clair de Duras' Ourika and Mariama Bâ’s Une Si Longue Lettre." And she earned her Ph.D. in French at USC in 2010.
Teaching & Publications
Dr. Clerfeuille taught at the University of California, Santa Barbara, 2000-2002; at Tulane, 2002-2003, at the University of Southern California, 2005-2010, and as a lecturer in French at Barnard College from 2010 to 2012.
Her paper on a work by Dany Laferriere was published in 2012 by the Presses de l’Université Laval, and her paper on a work by Evelyne Trouillot was published in 2012 in Contemporary French and Francophone Studies. She has delivered numerous papers on Caribbean literature, on resistance and on feminism at academic conferences and at the invitation of various universities in the U.S., the Caribbean, and Quebec.
Teaching at Saint Michael's
Dr. Clerfeuille will be teaching French language classes this semester and a course titled Voices of Resistance which will look at literature of the Caribbean, Africa and Quebec, using novels, film, TV, sit coms from Africa. "Like the Arab Spring," she said, "there is a Maple Revolution in Quebec now." In the spring she will be teaching French 102, and 203, and a class on grammar and composition.
Asked about her outside interests, Dr. Clerfeuille, a resident of Winooski, said, "I love reading novels from the Caribbean and West Africa; I love travel, watching foreign films to hear foreign languages, and I’m a great fan of Zumba."