Kirk D. Read

Professor of French and Francophone Studies


French and Francophone Studies

Roger Williams Hall, Room 405


Kirk Read, Ph.D Princeton University

Kirk Read, Professor of French and department chair, is a specialist in Early Modern French literature. He has secondary pedagogical and scholarly interests in Francophone North Africa. His book, Birthing Bodies in Early Modern France: Stories of Gender and Reproduction (Ashgate 2011), investigates sex and gender across various literary genres, including lyric poetry, midwives’ manuals, medical and proto-anthropological discourse from explorers, and the debates from the querelle des femmes. He created and maintains the Oxford Online Bibliography for the Renaissance poet Louise Labé.

In collaboration with colleagues and students over his 32-year career at Bates, Professor Read has developed a course in oral French that follows the adventures of a fictional North African heroine, Marie Malika d’Alger–an endeavor that combines his interests in language, culture and theatre. In 2019, he engaged a small group of students in an intense short-term redesign course and converted the text into an Open Educational Resource available to Bates students and soon to the general public. Professor Read has led both semester-long and short-term study trips to Nantes, France. From 2013-2016, he served as Associate Dean of the Faculty; previously he had served as Chair of the Bates Arts Collaborative, Chair of the Department of French and Francophone Studies, and Chair of the Division of Humanities. He has served on numerous search committees for senior staff and has a long-standing affiliation with Writing at Bates.

Professor Read has enjoyed an active alliance with the Department of Theater and Dance as an actor in a number of roles directed by both faculty and students including Angels in America (Roy Cohn), Stupid Fucking Bird (Sorn), Grand Concourse (Frog) and Luck of the Irish (Mr. Donovan). He enjoys teaching a course on French Drama in Performance and regularly deploys theatrical exercises and assignments in language courses. Professor Read enjoys teaching at all levels in the department, most especially his intermediate oral French class, his mid-level literature course on childhood in North Africa and a seminar, “Rereading Tintin” wherein students confront the author/artist’s colonialist renderings while at the same time exploring his appeal as an artist, storyteller and cultural influencer for nearly 100 years. Recent senior theses include authors’ use of childrens’ narrative voice, campaign rhetoric in the French presidential election, and the politics and pedagogies of laïcité in France.

Teaching (course selection)

  • Fre240E “Le Maghreb: Vue de l’Enfance”
  • Fre371 “Literary Identity in Early French Literature”
  • Fre372 “Woman Writer/Women Written” (in 17th century France)
  • Fre377 “Colon/Colonisé: Récits de l’Experience Nord-Africaine”
  • FreS33: “France, Day by Day” (taught in Nantes, France)
  • FreS39 “Rereading Tintin”
  • FYS203 “Family Stories” (First Year Seminar)

Theses mentored (selection)

  • “Emily in Paris:  Quel Paris est vendu?” (2023)
  • “La question de l’immigration Maghrébine en France, sujet polémique dans le discours politique de l’extrême droite” (2022)
  • “Towards an Embodied Understanding: Stage performance, gender narrative, and binary transcendence in Ivan Coyote & Rae Spoon’s Gender Failure and Sean Dorsey’s Lost/Found” (2018)
  •  “Tintin au Congo: un rêve révisé” (2018)
  • “Lire Tintin: un héros en contexte” (2016)
  • “La Folie Francophone au Féminin: Une Analyse des Textes de Trois Femmes” (2012)
  • “A la Recherche des Pères: Questions d’Identité dans le Cinéma Franco-Maghrébin” (2012)
  • “Les Citoyennes (Im)possibles: La Négociation de l’Identité des Jeunes Musulmanes dans la République” (2011)
  • “Alors, on danse: Le Rôle de la Danse dans la Récupération du Génocide Rwandais” (2011)
  • “Identité Nationale Française: une Collectivité Exclusive” (Honors, 2011)
  • “Harmonies du Soir:  Baudelaire et Debussy” (2009) (Honors, with Music)

Publications (selection)

   Gender and Scientific Discourse in Early Modern Culture by Kirk Read  High Anxiety by Kirk Read

  • Marie Malika d’Alger: a Theatre-based Course in Oral French [OER: Open Education Resource, official launch Fall 2024]
  • Birthing Bodies in Early Modern France: Stories of Gender and Reproduction (Ashgate, 2011)
  • “Touching and Telling: Gendered Variations on a Gynecological Theme” in Gender and Scientific Discourse in Early Modern Culture (Ashgate, 2010)
  • “Staging the Competent Midwife:  Louise Boursier as Response to François Rabelais’s gargantuan birth,” in Esprit généreux, esprit pantagruélicque Eds., Reiner Leushuis and Zahi Zalloua ,Cahiers du seizième siècle (Droz, 2008)
  • “What’s a Mother to Do?”: Maternal Advice from a Wise Woman,” Cahiers du 17ième siècle,Vol. VIII, no. 2 (2003) 65-76.
  • “Mother’s Milk from Father’s Breast:  Maternity Without Women in French Renaissance Lyric” in High Anxiety: Masculinity in Crisis in Early Modern France, Ed. Kathleen Perry Long.  (Truman State UP, 2002) 71-92.