Julie Fette

My scholarship is focused on modern France, and it is grounded in the disciplines of history, the social sciences, and cultural studies. My monograph, Exclusions: Practicing Prejudice in French Law and Medicine, 1920-1945 (Cornell University Press, April 2012), is about xenophobia in the liberal professions. During the period between the World Wars, French lawyers and doctors restricted foreigners and naturalized citizens from their fields. With the outbreak of war followed by Nazi occupation in 1940, the Vichy regime instituted policies to limit Jews in the legal and medical professions and imposed bans on non-native French. This study of discrimination among middle-class professionals examines social mobility, professionalization, public opinion, anti-Semitism, and xenophobia in twentieth-century French society.
My current interests focus on two comparative studies of gender in contemporary French and American societies. Gender is a new research direction that emerges from my past research on xenophobia and anti-Semitism. My interest has always been in othering, whether such strategies of differentiation and exclusion among social categories be determined by national origin, religion, ethnicity, or by gender.
One project explores how gender is portrayed in contemporary popular children's literature. Authors and publishers of children's books in France and the United States today make little conscious effort at equality: protagonists are still overwhelmingly male (with the expectation that girl readers can gender-jump but boys should not have to), storylines still follow old-fashioned roles (mom does the cooking), and animals are personified in the masculine. I will analyze whether this profile of children's literature is universal or if gender concepts are fostered in subtly diverse ways in American and French children. In addition to textual analysis of a database of storybooks, I will do fieldwork in the publishing worlds of the two countries to account for the creative processes and economic pressures at work for stories coming to market.
Another project is concerned with gendered career trajectories in classical ballet. This research will compare choreographers, repertoires, and artistic decision-making in the Paris Opera Ballet and the New York City Ballet. Although it is a dynamic moment in dance (five of the nineteen new National Choreographic Centers in France are headed by women), the profession of choreographer in elite ballet companies remains male-dominated in both France and the United States.
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America Through Foreign Eyes (Coursera)

The United States has always been a source of fascination — both attraction and repulsion — for the people of France, Mexico, China, and African countries such as Nigeria, Ghana, and Sudan. "America Through Foreign Eyes" is a rich, interdisciplinary, international course that features Rice University faculty from [...]