Grace An

  • 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.

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.