Grace An

  • Chair, French and Italian Department
  • Associate Professor of French and Cinema Studies


  • PhD, Cornell University, 2004
  • AB, Bryn Mawr College, 1993


I arrived at Oberlin upon completion of my PhD in romance studies at Cornell University, where I specialized in 20th-century French visual studies. My dissertation, ‘‘Par-asian Technologies: French Cinematic, Artistic, and Literary Encounters with East Asia since 1945,’’ became a series of published articles on the films of French directors Olivier Assayas, Chris Marker, Jean-Luc Godard, and Alain Resnais.

That research paved the way for an advanced French seminar titled ‘‘La Chine et le Japon dans l’imaginaire français,’’ as well as advanced courses on French/Francophone Documentary and the Essay Film; Cinema and 1968; the French New Wave; Stardom, Sexuality, and Art; French Queer Media and Activism. It also informs the introductory course on French cinema taught every fall, where students understand French cinema as a national cinema in a global film market, particularly from our standpoint in the post-national 21st century and through a feminist lens.

Currently, I am completing a book titled Disobedient Muse: Delphine Seyrig, Feminism, and The Cinema, which tells the story of French actress-agitator Delphine Seyrig, a passionate and committed artist who committed her cultural capital, tremendous talent, and grit to the movements of change in France of the late 1960s and 1970s.  Disobedient Muse presents a cultural history of women’s filmmaking of the 1960s and 1970s from the point of view of a versatile actress and its intersections with the women’s movements of the period.

This project has opened other research avenues, such as Jane Fonda’s activism in Vietnam, the reproductive rights movement in France during the 1970s, and the ethics of care.  With Catherine Witt (Reed College), I am coediting a special issue of French Screen Studies on documentary film practices and the ethics of care in France since 1968, to appear in 2021.

Professor An will be teaching Discovering Champagne: The World in a Glass as a part of the June Language and Culture Intensives.

I love teaching my interests in courses such as Stars, Actors, and the World Stage, which explores stardom as a public platform for responding to one’s times, while searching for a more suitable place for film actors in film history, which has prioritized the film director above all.  Or1968: révolutions politiques, artistiques et culturelles, which I was honored to teach at the Institut d’études françaises d’Avignon under the auspices of Bryn Mawr College. 

I also enjoy learning from students who contribute tremendous insight, passion, and imagination to these intellectual adventures. In fact, my work has benefitted from the assistance of key undergraduate research assistants who have helped develop bibliographies, detect trends, serve as editorial assistants, and even transcribe television interviews by French actors at France’s national television and radio archive in Paris.

Spring 2024

French Cinema, Intersectional and Feminist — FREN 320
Si je veux, quand je veux: la politique de la reproduction en France et dans ses anciennes colonies — FREN 427

Fall 2024

Expression orale et écrite — FREN 301
Back to the Future: The French New Wave — CIME 303
Back to the Future: The French New Wave — FREN 401


Grace An Writes Catalogue Essay for France's Premier Film Institution

May 17, 2023

Grace An was commissioned to write a catalogue essay for the Cinémathèque Française, France's premier film institution, which is launching its first exhibition devoted to a non-male filmmaker: Agnès Varda. The essay explored Varda's "revolutionary" short films during the 1960s, including Black Panthers and Salut les Cubains. The exhibit will open October 2023 and close in January 2024.

An was also commissioned to write a short piece about the film Annie colère (Blandine Lenoir, 2022) for a special issue of Imaginaires (formerly French Film for Historians) dedicated to reproductive politics and care. An is a member of the journal's advisory board.

Grace An Co-edits a Special Issue of French Screen Studies

February 16, 2022

Associate Professor of French and Cinema Studies Grace An co-edited a special issue of French Screen Studies on French documentary film and the ethics of care since 1968. Articles in the issue explore films that addresse topics including education, migration and refugees, disability, incarceration, and postcolonial trauma. An authored the article "Care across divides: militant abortion and film around the Veil Law," which discusses the ways feminists and activist doctors sought alternative practices of reproductive care and justice during the years that led to the legalization of abortion in 1975. Reframing abortion as a labor of care, the filmmakers filmed an ethics of care avant la lettre, just years before the ethics of care was conceived during the 1980s in the U.S., yet developed eventually in France. This article benefitted from the insight and research conducted by Amelia Connelly, Lillian Enoch, Skylar Kleinman, Alison Simonds, Daisy Vollen, and Kiki Widran during the first Junior Practicum (Fall 2020). French Screen Studies is the only English-language academic journal to focus exclusively on French cinema and media.