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Kathleen Hart Associate Professor of French and Francophone Studies

Kathleen Harts teaching and research interests include 19th-, 20th- and 21st-century French-language literatures and media; translation; word and music studies; animal studies, self-fashioning (autobiography and related genres, manipulation of various media); French feminisms, and biocultural interpretation (cognitive and evolutionary approaches to the study of imaginative culture).


  • BA, University of Florida; MA, University of California, Irvine; PhD, University of Pennsylvania
  • At Vassar since 1993


Research and Academic Interests

  • 19th, 20th and 21st century French and Francophone literatures and media
  • Translation
  • Word and Music Studies
  • Animal Studies
  • Self-fashioning (autobiography and related genres, manipulation of various media)
  • French Feminisms
  • Biocultural Interpretation (applying cognitive and evolutionary research to the study of literature, theory and culture)


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Photo: Karl Rabe / Vassar College

Kathleen Hart (PhD, University of Pennsylvania) discovered her enthusiasm for literary and cultural studies during a semester abroad. Her publications include Revolution and Women’s Autobiography in Nineteenth-Century France and, with Paul Fenouillet (SUNY New Paltz), a new French edition and English translation of George Sand’s Gabriel, a play that explores complexities of gender identity and expression. She has published a translation of Benoît Duteurtre's essay "The Question of the Cow" for Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment, and lectured on “Musicality in Translation,” the topic of a segment aired on NPR’s The Academic Minute.

Much of Prof. Hart's research focuses on biocultural interpretation (cognitive and evolutionary approaches to imaginative culture). See “Animal Humor and the Darwinian Absurd” (Contemporary French and Francophone Studies); Strangers to Ourselves: Animality and Theory of Mind in Honoré de Balzac’s ‘A Passion in the Desert’” (Style); "Animal Metaphors and Metaphorizing Animals: An Integrated Literary, Cognitive and Evolutionary Analysis of Making and Partaking of Stories" (with John H. Long, Jr. in Evolution: Education and Outreach), and "Animal Metaphors Revisited" (Evolutionary Studies in Imaginative Culture).  She is a contributor to the Literary Universals Project and regularly participates in the Annual Nineteenth-Century French Studies Colloquium, for which she organized a panel on ecocriticism. 

Formerly a piano performance major at Oberlin Conservatory of Music, Prof. Hart incorporates French and Francophone music into her courses at all levels, from the chanson réaliste to French New Pop to artists who sing in Creole. Her forthcoming article, "Evolution, Romance and Ritual in Muriel Barbery's L'élégance du hérisson (2006)" (French Forum) addresses the role of music in existentialist fiction. She is the recipient of two grants from the Vassar-Williams-Mellon Consortium to develop web-based French-language exercises and teaching material using songs. 

Prof. Hart has taught for the Women’s Studies Program, the Environmental Studies program, and various topics for the first-year writing seminar.