Alice Kaplan appointed Sterling Professor of French

Kaplan is a leading scholar of 20th- and 21st-century French and Francophone literature and history.
Professor Alice Kaplan

Alice Kaplan (Photo credit: Photo Editions Gallimard, Catherine Helie)

Alice Y. Kaplan, newly named as Sterling Professor of French, is a leading scholar of 20th- and 21st-century French and Francophone literature and history.

The Sterling Professorship is the highest honor bestowed on Yale faculty.

Kaplan was recently appointed as the next director of the Whitney Humanities Center, where she will continue the center’s work advancing scholarly exchange across the humanities at Yale, guiding the intellectual agendas of programs such as the Franke Visiting Fellows, Franke Lectures, Finzi-Contini Lectures, Tanner Lectures on Human Values, Humanities/Humanity, and others. She will also lead Yale’s Whitney Fellows in fostering collaboration and dialogue that crosses disciplinary boundaries.

Kaplan is recognized internationally as an expert in French literature and culture, and for her work on the cultural foundations and literary representation of fascism and racism. Her 1993 book, “French Lessons,” was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. “The Collaborator: The Trial and Execution of Robert Brasillach” (2000) was a finalist for the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award and won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for History. In 2005, her book “The Interpreter” won the Henry Adams Prize from the Society for History in the Federal Government. Her most recent work, “Looking for ‘The Stranger’: Albert Camus and the Life of a Literary Classic,” was a New York Times notable book of 2016 and a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award.

A graduate of the University of California-Berkeley, Kaplan earned her Ph.D. in French at Yale in 1981. She served from 1986 to 2007 on the faculty at Duke University, where she founded the Center for French and Francophone Studies and served as its first director.

Kaplan has taught at Yale since 2008. She has twice chaired the Department of French and is the co-founder and director of the Yale Translation Initiative at the MacMillan Center. Under her leadership, the initiative has emerged as a key intellectual hub for the hundreds of members of the Yale community whose work touches on translation, from fields as diverse as national literatures and comparative literature, political science, and computer science.

Kaplan works in conjunction with many departments, programs, and initiatives outside the French Department. She is an affiliated faculty member in the Departments of Comparative Literature and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies, as well as the Humanities Program. She currently serves on the executive committee of the Whitney Humanities Center and the Council for European Studies, and she participates in the Program for the Study of Anti-Semitism and the Middle East Council’s Initiative for a Diverse Middle East. Kaplan also serves as co-director of the Yale Translation Initiative at the MacMillan Center.

Outside Yale, Kaplan is a member of the Writers Council of the American Library in Paris and sits on the board of the French journal Critique as its New Haven correspondent and as a jury member for the French Voices Book Prize, a translation subvention awarded by the cultural services of the French Embassy in New York. 

Kaplan is a Guggenheim Fellow, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and recipient of the French Légion d’Honneur. She is a trustee of the Camargo Foundation in Cassis, France and a founding member of the MaisonDAR collective in Algiers.

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