Bienvenue! Welcome to the Department of French!

  • Portrait
  • Alan Williams
  • Professor of French
  • Graduate Director
  • Email:
  • Office Location: AB 4180, CAC
  • Office Hours: Thursdays, 2:30 - 3:30 p.m.
  • Phone: (848) 932-3796


B.A., University of Washington
M.A., University of Washington
Ph.D., SUNY Buffalo

Fields of Research:

Film history:  theories of spectatorship; economic history; study of film genres; the influence of social events & configurations of filmmaking

I work primarily in the field of film history, defined very broadly. I try to tie together ways of studying cinema that are normally considered distinct: theories of spectatorship, economic history, study of film genres, the influence of social events and configurations on filmmaking, and so on. I am particularly interested in crisis points in film history--"overdetermined" moments where striking changes at apparently different levels occur in a relatively brief space of time. These include (for French cinema) the transition from "silent" cinema to the talkies, the German Occupation, the years of the nouvelle vague and, most recently, the time of the final negotiations of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.

Books (click on image for details):



Other Publications:

  • Max Ophuls and the Cinema of Desire. (Arno, 1980)
  • "Pierrot in Context(s)", in D. Wills, ed., Pierrot le fou (Cambridge University Press, in press)
  • Making Different Kinds of Circles:  Reigen and the Cinema, in T. Ballhausen et al (eds.), Die Tatsachen der Seele:  Arthur Schnitzler und der Film (Verlag Filmarchiv Austria, 2006)

Graduate Courses:

  • French Cinema of the Occupation
  • Cinema Between the World Wars
  • Writing Film History
  • Film Theory
  • Theories of Realism
  • French Stars and Genres

Undergraduate Courses:

  • French Film in French
  • French Film in English
  • Senior Seminar in Cinema Studies
  • French Cinema and the Novel
  • French Cinema and the Theater
  • Aspects of French Literature

Program Connections:

Cinema Studies
Comparative Literature

New & Noteworthy

Why French?


Les Rassemblements (1896), Felix Valloton (detail)


Mona Lisa with a Pipe, by Eugène Bataille (Sapeck) (detail)

Study Abroad

Study Abroad


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