Exploring the intersection of pain and power

January 3, 2013 9:00 AM

Mary Sparacello

Vaheed Ramazani’s research has taken him on a journey from 19th-century French literature to the contemporary Middle East. Along the way, the Tulane French professor has explored the intersection of pain and power, particularly in time of war.

Vaheed Ramazani

“The well-being of our species depends on altruism at a global level rather than narrow, entrenched views of us versus them,” says Vaheed Ramazani, Gore Professor in French Studies. (Photo by Paula Burch-Celentano)

The topic may be unpleasant, but Ramazani’s scholarship is widely praised for its honesty, originality and interdisciplinary approach. Now, the author and critic is being rewarded once again as the new holder of the Kathryn B. Gore Chair in French Studies.

Ramazani joined the Department of French and Italian in 1989. His most recent book, Writing in Pain: Literature, History and the Culture of Denial, focuses on historical trauma in three French texts and reflects his expertise in 19th-century French literature and culture.

His current research offers an unflinching take on violence in the Western world. An upcoming article in the February 2013 edition of Middle East Critique argues that the American media is partly to blame for the public’s lack of moral and emotional investment in the human and political toll of U.S. counterinsurgency operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. The press has the capacity — and the obligation — to resist pressure to favor one culture or race above another, Ramazani says.

“Increasingly, the well-being of our species depends on altruism at a global level rather than narrow, entrenched views of us versus them,” Ramazani says.

In addition to money for research, the Gore Chair endowment provides resources to bring speakers to campus, and Ramazani has invited Deborah Jenson, who co-directs the Haiti Lab at Duke University, to appear on campus this spring.

The Gore Chair was established by the late Kathryn B. Gore, who received her undergraduate degree from Newcomb College in 1935 and a master’s degree in 1937. An avid university supporter who was a longtime member of the President’s Council, she created chairs in French studies and human genetics.

Mary Sparacello is a writer in the Office of Development.

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