Professor and Chair
Focuses on 20th-21st-century French and francophone literature and culture; Haitian literature and culture; French and Francophone Cinema; Postcolonial identities; Immigration; Violence in France and the francophone world.


Joëlle Vitiello, Professor of French and Francophone Studies, received her Ph.D. from Stanford University, her Diplôme d’études universitaires supérieures (D.E.U.G.) and License from Paris XIII in France. She chaired the department of French and Francophone Studies between 2000-2003 and 2006-2012. She started the French Lectures Series for the department in fall 1999.

The courses she has developed include 20th and 21st century French literature; Food in French and Francophone Cultures: the Local and the Global; Introduction to French and Francophone Studies; Representations of Immigration and Border-Crossings in Contemporary Europe; Voices from the Mediterranean; Contemporary French Culture; Haitian Literature and Culture; Caribbean Literature; Literature and Cinema of Immigration; North Africa/France: Representations on Both Sides of the Mediterranean;  African and French Cinema in Dialogue; French Intellectuals In/And the World; Culture and Identity Through Francophone Cinema, French Feminist Theory; Haiti: Culture, Human Rights and Humanitarianism; and French at all levels. She participates in the programs of African Studies, Middle Eastern Studies and Islamic Civilization, and Human Rights and Humanitarianism.

Her specialization is in representations of relationships (love, motherhood, friendship, and transmission of knowledge) in contemporary literature, especially by women from France and the Francophone world. Her current research includes Haitian literature and culture; Representations of Immigration; North African Cinema and literature, and representations of systemic violence. She is also working on representations of friendship in anthropology, philosophy, literature, and cinema.

She co-organized the 2008 American Institute for Maghrebi Studies Conference on North African Cinema in Tunis, May 2008, and co-hosted at Macalester College the first international Women In French Conference with Dana Strand from Carleton College in 2000. She co-organized the Visualities of Memory Symposium with Visiting Professor Vicky Karaiskou, September 2014 at Macalester.

Her book publications include Elles écrivent des Antilles (Haiti, Guadeloupe, Martinique) (L’Harmattan, 1997), a co-edited special issue of Women In French Studies: Women at the Threshold of the XXIst Century: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives (2003) and a co-authored book on La vie et les valeurs aux U.S.A with Claire Nacher (Paris: Editions Solar, Presses de la Cité, 1991.)

She has also authored many articles, chapters, prefaces, and essays in peer-reviewed journals and collective books on Haitian writers from Haiti and its diaspora, including work on post-duvalierist literature (Marie Vieux Chauvet, Dany Laferrière, Kettly Mars, Jean Price-Mars, René Depestre, Emile Ollivier, Yanick Lahens, Yanick Jean, Lyonel Trouillot, Joël Des Rosiers, Gérard Etienne), Caribbean literature, West African Literature, North African literature, Lebanese-Egyptian writer Andrée Chedid, as well as theoretical essays on exile, nomadism and diaspora, and theoretical and literary articles on feminist epistemology, gift, and friendship. Peer-reviewed journals include Contemporary French and Francophone StudiesWomen In French StudiesCELAAN, Cultures SudEtudes littérairesPrésence francophoneLittéRéalitésLa Revue GénéraleSymposiumNotre Librairie, among others.

Recent publications include ” Les Livres de Marie Vieux Chauvet: Déambulations” (2016); “Disrupting Conventional Film Structure: Letters, Voice-Over and Traumatic Irruption in Raoul Peck’s Films” (2015); “Voix, corps et mouvements dans les premiers romans d’Assia Djebar”, CELAAN, Review of the Center for the Study of Literatures and Arts of North Africa (2015); “Boubacar Boris Diop, auteur sénégalais, francophone, planétaire: de la fiction à l’essai,” (Les Cahiers, Présence Africaine, 2014); “La mémoire dans les romans et nouvelles de Marie-Célie Agnant” ( 2013);  “Port-au-Prince: Images littéraires des quartiers-bidonvilles et de leurs habitants,” Ponti/Ponts (2011);  and the Introduction to Comment Ecrire/ Mo Pou 12 Janvye? How to Write an Earthquake?  91st Meridian and University of Iowa International Writing Program, 2011.

She contributes entries to the site dedicated to island literatures île en île ( and to various dictionaries and encyclopedias. She has published translations of short texts (literary and scholarly) into French, has edited several professional organizations newsletters, a directory, and contributed regularly to professional newsletters.

Recent guest lectures include  the presentation of her research on “Shifting Commitments: Haitian Literary Intellectuals” for the 2015-16 Macalester Humanities Colloquium, “Haiti Reframed: Post-Earthquake Narratives” for the Pre-Post-Colonialism Series of Carleton College Humanities Center;  “Traumatic Irruptions of the Algerian War of Independence in French and Algerian Films” for the Visualities of MemorySymposium she co-organized at Macalester College with Visiting Professor Vicky Karaiskou, participation in a roundtable on Arts and Humanities in a Broken World: Cases of Genocide and Academic Resarch: A Roundtable Discussion at Brown University in 2013, and a five-lecture seminar on “The Legacy of the Algerian War: Confronting the Past to Better Understand the Present,” at the Summer Institute of the University of Cape Town, South Africa, in January 2011.

Recent selected papers presented at professional conferences include work on “Migrations Unbound: Images and the Ethics of Hospitality,” (MLA Symposium, Düsseldorf, 2016); “Representations of Haiti in Maryse Condé’s oeuvre” (University of Chicago, 2016).

Recent community and outreach engagement includes several community lectures on Earthquake and Post-Earthquake Haiti, interviews and short reflexion essays about the January 12, 2010 earthquake in Haiti; Participation in Roundtable about Senegalese Filmmaker Sembene Ousmane, as well as introducing and leading discussion about two films by Sembene Ousmane at the Walker Art Center, November 2010; Serving as co-advisor to the MSP Film Society for the programming of Images of Africa: An African Film Series in 2013;  Participating  in the Walker Art Center program featuring a retrospective of Abderrahmane Sissako’s films, including his latest Timbuktu (February and April 2015);  Participating in the committee organizing the Alliance Française’s program on Haitian culture in Spring 2015 and on Lebanon in 2016.