Julie Van Dam

Professor (Teaching) of French
Email vandam@usc.edu Office THH 155G Office Phone (213) 740-3700

Research & Practice Areas

Disability in literature; Francophone women’s literature; sub-Saharan African literature; the history of medicine; colonial medicine; 19th century literature

Center, Institute & Lab Affiliations

  • UCLA Center for the Study of Women, Research Scholar


Julie Van Dam is Professor of French (teaching) in the Department of French and Italian (PhD, UCLA; MA, Cheikh Anta Diop University in Dakar, Senegal). Her book, Critical Conditions: Illness and Disability in Francophone African and Caribbean Women’s Writing (2012, as Julie Nack Ngue) engages with the fields of postcolonial studies, feminist theory, anthropology, disability studies, and the history of medicine to argue for a new critical reading of health and bodily difference in Francophone literature by women. She has published in JLCDS, Wagadu, and DSQ. Her current research project and publications focus on feminist decolonization of healthcare and cripcare across various media from Francophone Africa and the diaspora. She teaches courses on disability, narratives of illness, bodily difference, gender, and sexuality in African and French contexts. 


  • Ph.D. French and Francophone Studies, UCLA, 9/2007
  • M.A. French Studies, Cheikh Anta Diop University, 10/2001
  • B.A. French, University of San Francisco, 5/1997
  • Research, Teaching, Practice, and Clinical Appointments

    • Assistant Professor of French (teaching), USC, 2010-07-01-
    • Lecturer, USC, 2007-08-15-2010-07-01

    Visiting and Temporary Appointments

    • Research Scholar, UCLA Center for the Study of Women, 06/2008
  • Summary Statement of Research Interests

    Her research focuses on representations of illness and disability in Francophone African and Caribbean literature and cinema.

    Research Specialties

    Disability in literature; Francophone women’s literature; sub-Saharan African literature; the history of medicine; colonial medicine; 19th century literature

    Detailed Statement of Research Interests

    Her research focuses on representations of illness and disability in Francophone African and Caribbean literature and cinema. Her research takes account not only of the systems of race, class, gender, and sexuality, but also those of embodiment and health by introducing disability as a category of analysis. Disability reveals material inequalities while simultaneously allowing for visions of illness and disability that dwell outside the constitutive paradigms of cure and normative bodily and psychic health.

    Research & Teaching interests include: Health, illness, and disability in 19th and 20th century French and Francophone writings and cinema; Gender, sexuality, and the body in 20th and 21st century French and Francophone writings and cinema; Disability and nation-building in Francophone writings and cinema.

  • Contracts and Grants Awarded

    • Critical Conditions: Refiguring Bodies of Illness and Disability in Francophone African and Caribbea, (UCLA Center for the Study of Women), Julie Nack Ngue, $750, 2008-2009

    USC Funding

    • NTT Faculty Development Grant. eBook to accompany Albert Camus’ L’Etranger: This grant helped fund a collaborative initiative authoring an electronic book, an e-book, to accompany the novel read by all students in French 220, Albert Camus’ L’Etranger. , $1500, 2012-2013
    • College NTT Faculty Development Grant. French and Francophone Studies International Colloquium: “The Aesthetics of Dis/ability in Ousmane Sembène’s ‘Xala'”: This project explores the place of postcolonial Francophone African literature and cinema in the refiguring of sociocultural norms of health and the body that undergird ideas of the nation. , $500, 2010-2011
    • USC College 20/20 Research Cluster: Course Development Grant. Remembering Loss, Writing Memory: A cross-cultural study of literature, cinema, and testimonies from France, Algeria, and Rwanda that provide unique perspectives on trauma, survival, and narrative. , $1000, Spring 2011
  • Conference Presentations

    • The Aesthetics of Dis/ability in Ousmane Sembène’s “Xala” , French and Francophone Studies Annual International ColloquiumTalk/Oral Presentation, USF, San Francisco, CA, 03/31/2011 – 04/01/2011
    • Dis/abled Migrations: Negotiating Illness and Bodily Disorder in Contemporary France , International Contemporary Women’s Writing Network Talk/Oral Presentation, CSU San Diego, San Diego, CA, 07/07/2010 – 07/08/2010
    • Contemporary Senegalese Women’s Writing: Towards a New Aesthetics of the Global , Modern Languages Association Annual MeetingTalk/Oral Presentation, San Francisco, CA, 12/28/2008 – 12/30/2008
    • Against Quarantine: Foreign Bodies, Circulation, and Contact in/between Francophone Immigrant Literature and Disability Studies , ACLA Annual MeetingTalk/Oral Presentation, CSULB, Long Beach, CA, 04/20/2008
    • Grotesque Femininity, Disability, and the Limits of Circulation in Ken Bugul’s Globalized Africa , 20th and 21st Century French and Francophone Studies ColloquiumTalk/Oral Presentation, Georgetown University, Invited, Washington, DC, 03/07/2008 – 03/09/2008
    • Disability in Globalized Africa: Grotesque Bodies and Global Hauntings in Fama Diagne Sène’s Le Chant des ténèbres , Society for Disability Studies Annual MeetingTalk/Oral Presentation, Washington State University, Seattle, WA, 06/20/2007 – 06/23/2007
  • Book

    • Nack Ngue, J. (2011). Critical Conditions. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books.

    Book Chapters

    • Nack Ngue, J. C. (2009). The Body of Survival, the Body Composite: Testimony and the Problematics of Integral Healing in Ken Bugul’s Le Baobab fou. Lawrenceville, NJ: Africa World Press: Emergent Perspectives on Ken Bugul: From Alternative Choices to Oppositional Practices / Africa World Press.
    • Nack Ngue, J. C. (2008). Towards a New Aesthetics of the Global: Grotesque Bodies, Circulation, and Haunting in Contemporary Senegalese Women’s Writing. Paris: Dominque Gueniot: Migrant Literature.

    Book Review

    • Nack Ngue, J. (2010). Aesthetic Nervousness: Disability and the Crisis of Representation by Ato Quayson. Journal of Literary and Cultural Disability. pp. 333-335.
    • Nack Ngue, J. (2010). Postcolonial Eyes: Intercontinental Travel in Francophone African Literature by Aedin Ni Loingsigh. Journal of Intercultural Studies.


    • Nack Ngue, J. C. (2006). Postcolonial Feminist Re-presentations of Disability Studies. Los Angeles, CA. UCLA Center for the Study of Women.

    Encyclopedia Article

    • Nack Ngue, J. C. (2005). Ken Bugul. (Carole Boyce Davies & Babacar Mbow, Ed.). Miami, FL: Encyclopedia of the African Diaspora / African New World Studies.

    Journal Article

    • Nack Ngue, J. C. (2007). Colonial Discourses of Disability and Normalization in Contemporary Francophone Immigrant Narratives: Bessora’s 53 cm and Fatou Diome’s Le Ventre de l’Atlantique. Wagadu, Journal of Transnational Women’s and Gender Studies / Xlibris. Vol. 4 (Summer 2007)


    • Nack Ngue, J. C., Mellot, N. (2003). “Primitivism and Postcolonialism in the Arts” by Jean-Loup Amselle. Modern Language Notes.
    • Nack Ngue, J. C. (2002). “Des ténèbres à la lumière,” Interview with Senegalese novelist Fama Diagne Sène. Mots Pluriels.
    • Departmental Wiki, The Wiki is a collaborative online digital archive of music for in-class use and/or at-home assignments. Over 50 songs, arranged by level and by relevant linguistic and cultural points. Available links: information on the musician or group, song lyrics, song itself, music video, and instructor-prepared activities., 2008-2009
  • Conferences Organized

    • Co-chair & Moderator, Gender, Sexuality, and Reproduction: Contemporary and Historical Perspectives, Huntington Library, San Marino, CA, Spring 2010

    Professional Offices

    • Committee Member, Huntington Library Women’s Studies Seminar Series, 2009-2010

    Professional Memberships

    • American Comparative Literature Association, 01/01/2007 –
    • Society for Disability Studies, 01/01/2006 –
    • Modern Languages Association, 09/01/2003 –
    • African Literature Association, 01/01/2003 –
    • African Studies Association, 01/01/2003 –
    • Women in French, 01/01/2003 –
    • Conseil International d’Etudes Francophones, 01/01/2000 –
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