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Felicia McCarren Professor Department of French & Italian Tulane University

Felicia McCarren

Professor of French and Italian



Ph.D., Stanford University


Felicia McCarren is a performance historian and cultural theorist, and the author of Dance Pathologies: Performance, Poetics, Medicine (1998) and Dancing Machines: Choreographies of the Age of Mechanical Reproduction (2003) both from Stanford University Press, and articles on performance, cinema, and new media. Her new book, French Moves; The Cultural Politics of le hip hop (Oxford, 2013) explores the urban dance of minorities in France.
She holds the BA in Literature magna cum laude from Harvard and the MA and PhD in Comparative Literature from Stanford University. She has taught at Stanford, UCLA, NYU-Tisch School for the Arts, and the University of New Mexico. In Europe, she has taught at the Danshogskolen in Stockholm, the Danish State School for the Performing Arts, and PARTS in Brussels, in Spain for the Tulane Summer Program in Cadiz, and in Paris as the President of EDUCO (Emory, Duke Cornell and Tulane in Paris) 2012-13. She has participated in the seminar on the cultural history of dance at l’EHESS. Recent awards include an NEH summer stipend 2011 and a Greenbaum Research Fellowship from Newcomb College Institute.
In her work, McCarren has focused on how performances—and especially female performers--with their tremendous cultural power in certain historical contexts, created the conditions of possibility for new ways of understanding bodies and the modern medical, visual and industrial technologies that have shaped them.
Dancers did more than mime or sell an idealized romantic image in the ballet, or institutional productivity associated with scientific management in modern dance-- instead, commenting critically on these mainstream readings of female bodies in performance. Contemporary urban dancers on the French stage have also been inventing a new discourse exploring bodily identity—gender and race—in a Republic that has been slow to recognize the politics of difference.
In her work-in-progress, McCarren is considering the importance of gender in the capitalization of traditional culture in Morocco, and the historical interplay between science and performance in the gendering of dance from the romantic ballet to the contemporary stage.

Selected Publications

  • French Moves : The Cultural Politics of Le Hip Hop. New York: Oxford UP, 2013. Print. Oxford Studies in Dance Theory.
  • Dancing Machines : Choreographies of the Age of Mechanical Reproduction. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford UP, 2003. Print.
  • Dance Pathologies : Performance, Poetics, Medicine. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford UP, 1998. Print. Writing Science.

Dissertations directed

  • Sheri Abel, "The stupid aristocracy of skin": Charles Testut's French southern antislavery novel. "Le Vieux Salomon, ou une famille d'esclaves au XIXeme siecle”
  • Olivier Bourderionnet, France on an LP: Vian, Brassens, Gainsbourg. A look at contemporary French culture through popular song
  • Annabelle Martin Golay, Beauvoir intime et politique : la fabrique des mémoires
  • Guergana Gougoumanova, Between East and West: The Bulgarian francophone intellectuals---Julia Kristeva, Maria Koleva, and Tzvetan Todorov
  • Chrystele Luneau, The quest for an identity through the body in the works of Boris Vian
  • Sandrine Villers, The relationship between word, sound, and image in Francois Truffaut's adaptations of American novels
  • Alison Chanslor, Gastro-media: Media and French Gastronomy



Cultural studies, performance theory and history of the performing arts, especially female performers; French and comparative literature and film; science and technology studies; Morocco and representations of Islam