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.

In collaboration with colleagues and students over his 30-year career at Bates he 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 co-chairs the faculty writing committee this year.  In the winter of 2018, Professor Read was cast in Bates’s main stage production of Angels in America in the role of Roy Cohn, followed by a role in 2020’s Stupid Fucking Bird by Aaron Posner, and this winter’s student-directed production of Grand Concourse by Heidi Schreck; this has reinvigorated the theatrical emphasis in his teaching, and he plans to offer French Drama in Performance on a regular basis.  In the fall of 2020, he taught his course on childhood in North Africa and a seminar entitled “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.  Professor Read is currently on sabbatical working on articles related to his pedagogy for several publications.

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 “ Tintin et les Intellos”
  • FYS203 “Family Stories” (First Year Seminar)

Recent theses mentored (selection)

  •  “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
  • 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.