Robert Watson

Visiting Assistant Professor of World Languages and Cultures (French)
Director of the Language Commons

Robert Watson is from El Paso, Texas, a border city that has long been a transit point, hence its name "The Pass," in region with an ancient history of cosmopolitan linguistic and cultural exchange. This experience sparked his interest in how identity is formed in cities at the edges of nations and empires.


  • Ph.D., French and Jewish studies, Vanderbilt University
  • M.A., French and Francophone cultural studies, University of Leeds (UK)
  • B.A., international studies and French, Baylor University

Course Topics

  • Beginning, Intermediate, and Advanced French
  • French Cinema
  • French Conversation
  • Queer as France? Gender and Sexual Transgressions in Contemporary French Cinema
  • Islands of Identity: Overseas French Colonization
  • Memories of the Mediterranean: Jews, Muslims, and Christians, and the Legacy of French Colonialism

Research Interests

  • Colonial and Post-colonial France
  • The Francophone World Cinema and Sovereignty
  • Queer Multiculturalism
  • Jewish Cultures of North Africa and the Middle East
  • Foodways of the Mediterranean


  • “Second Languages, Second Births: Karin Albou, Ronit Elkabetz, and the Rediscovery of Mediterranean Jewish Multilingualism,” in Bicultural Writers and Filmmakers, eds. Peter Barta and Phil Powrie (London: Routledge), forthcoming 2015.
  • “Narrating a Diasporic Childhood around the Mediterranean in Victor Teboul’s La lente découverte de l’étrangeté,” The French Review 88.2 (December 2014).
  • “Between Liberation(s) and Occupation(s): Revisiting the Emergence of Maghrebi Jewish Communism, 1942-1945,” Journal of Modern Jewish Studies 13.3 (November 2014): 381-398.
  • "Voyage au bout de la mémoire judéo-marocaine: Parcourir la distance spatio-temporelle de l'exil dans Une femme, une mère" Edmond El Maleh: Art, Culture, Ecriture (edited conference proceedings, Université de Meknès, forthcoming 2012)
  • "Secondhand Memories: Tunisian Jewish Women's Writing in French and the Paradoxes of Return" Life Writing 9.4, special issue on "Women's Life Writing and Diaspora" (Winter 2012)
  • "Jewish Memories of Late Colonial Lingua Franca in Casablanca, Tunis and Alexandria," Expressions Maghrébines 11.2, special issue on "The Mediterranean Maghreb: Literature and Plurilingualism" (Winter 2012)
  • "Memories (out) of Place: Franco-Judeo-Algerian Autobiography, 1995-2010," Journal of North African Studies 17.1 (2012): 1-22.
  • Translation of Rokhya Diallo's "Guerlain, ou le racisme inodore" / "The Guerlain Affair: Odorless French Racism," Palimpsest: A Journal on Women, Gender and the Black International 1.1 (Spring/Summer 2012)
  • Translation of Philippe Zard's "Les paradoxes du sionisme dans l'oeuvre d'Albert Cohen" / "The paradoxes of Zionism in the Work of Albert Cohen," Nathalie Debrauwere-Miller ed., The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict in the Francophone World (Routledge, New York, 2009) 41-54.

Robert Watson

Faculty Expert

  • France
  • North Africa
  • International Film

Contact Information