Alice Kaplan, newly named as the John M. Musser Professor of French, is an award-winning author whose research interests include World War II and post-war France, literature and law, biography and autobiography, and French cultural studies.
Kaplan is recognized internationally as a leading specialist of French literature and culture during the 1930s through the 1950s and for work on the cultural foundations and literary representation of fascism and racism.
A graduate of the University of California-Berkeley, Kaplan earned her Ph.D. in French at Yale in 1981. Her thesis was published in 1986 as "Reproductions of Banality: Fascism, Literature and French Intellectual Life" in the History and Theory of Literature collection of the University of Minnesota Press. In 1988, she published a French book-length critique of Céline's first anti-Semitic pamphlet, "Bagatelles pour un massacre." Her 1993 "French Lessons: A Memoir," an autobiographical account of her passion for the French language, became a bestseller for the University of Chicago Press, was chosen as a "Notable Book of the Year" by The New York Times and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award.
Kaplan's 2000 book "The Collaborator: The Trial and Execution of Robert Brasillach" was a finalist for the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Award. It won the Los Angeles Times Book Award in History in 2000 and was also chosen a notable book that year by The New York Times and the American Library Association. Her 2005 book "The Interpreter" was awarded the Society for History in the Federal Government's 2006 Henry Adams Prize.
Kaplan began teaching at Yale this semester after serving from 1986 to 2007 on the faculty at Duke University, where she was the Lehrman Professor of Romance Studies and professor of literature and history. She founded Duke's Center for French and Francophone Studies and served as its first director.
In addition to her original writing and scholarship, Kaplan is also a translator, most notably of French writer Roger Grenier.
A member of the usage panel of the American Heritage Dictionary since 1997, she has also served on the editorial board of the South Atlantic Quarterly journal. She is currently working on a collection of Camus' Algerian writings and portraits of American women in Paris.