Thomas Parker

Associate Professor and Chair of French and Francophone Studies

Thomas Parker specializes in early modern literature, philosophy, and cultural studies. He earned his PhD at Columbia University, and is currently an Associate Professor at Vassar.

His first book Volition, Rhetoric, and Emotion in the Work of Pascal, published by Routledge in 2008 (paperback 2013), is a monograph that illuminates the rhetoric and philosophy used by Pascal to convert readers to Catholicism. His latest book—Tasting French Terroir: The History of an Idea (University of California Press, 2015)—explores the origins and significance of the French concept of terroir, demonstrating that the way the French eat their food and drink their wine today derives from a cultural mythology that developed between the Renaissance and the Revolution. The book received Gourmand’s Special Jury Prize for Best Wine Book of 2015 and was published in French by the Presses Universitaires François Rabelais de Tours and the Presses Universitaires de Rennes’ “Tables des Hommes” collection in 2017.

Thomas Parker's teaching interests lie in developing intercultural competence through language and critical thinking. To this end, he teaches intermediate French through French and Francophone children’s literature. Advanced course offerings include French Utopian AdventuresEarly Modern Philosophical FictionsPoetry, Theater, and Songs for the Five Senses. Seminars include A Taste of Terroir: French Methodologies for Experiencing the Earth and Sugar, Slaves, and the French Atlantic.

His newest project, Subnature and Culinary Culture, examines the history of foods that have been marginalized and reappropriated by different cultures throughout history. It grows out of a transdisciplinary project involving a series of dinners, culinary reenactments, lectures, and public humanities events that Professor Parker organized with colleagues at Duke University.

BA, Cornell University; MA, PhD, Columbia University in the City of New York
At Vassar since 2005


Chicago Hall
Box 319