Romance Languages and Literatures Welcomes Meryem Belkaïd

Since joining the Francophone Studies faculty this July, Assistant Professor Meryem Belkaïd has already garnered great appreciation from both students in colleagues for the many outstanding qualities and expertise she brings to the Department, not to mention her her terrific spirit and sense of humor. As senior major Sophia Namara attests, in her courses Professor Belkaïd “engages with each and every student, creating a class environment where people feel encouraged to participate and deeply engage with the subject material.” A specialist in 20th and 21st-century literature, with a particular interest in the literature, cinema, and politics of the Maghreb, she is currently teaching a seminar on “Crime Fiction as History,” examining how contemporary crime fiction serves as a rich venue for the interrogation of history, including the French colonial past and the period of the German occupation during World War II. As senior major Elena Schaef comments, “Professor Belkaïd teaches passionately about a genre that is often overlooked in both French and English literature. Her abundant knowledge of French history and the perspectives she emphasizes from francophone North African make for a fascinating class.” This semester, Professor Belkaïd has also shared her love of cinema in her Advanced French through Film course, where students learn approaches to film analysis while building their technical vocabulary and honing their writing skills. She hopes to teach a seminar on the Cinema of the Maghreb in the future. In addition to inpiring students in the classroom, Professor Belkaïd has been a dynamic presence in the Department, participating in weekly Francophone Table dinners and co-leading Francophone Studies’ annual immersion trip to Québec City.

Born and raised in Algeria, Professor Belkaïd lived for several years in France and worked in Tunisia for two years, where she has strong family ties. Trained in both literature and political science, she brings unique perspectives and wide-ranging experience to the Francophone Studies program. Before coming to Bowdoin, she taught at universities in Tunis and Paris as well as in the liberal arts college environment at Macalester and Bates. Her scholarly work and teaching interests embrace both sides of the Mediterranean. While her French doctoral thesis, which she is preparing for publication in the United States, focused on the role of the individual in contemporary French crime fiction, her current work interrogates the crime novel in the North African context, examining how the genre is transformed in a different political arena with its own particular history and stakes.

Even before her arrival at Bowdoin, Professor Belkaïd had already begun to enrich the Francophone Studies program in important ways. She brought exciting events to our campus last spring through collaborations she initiated between Colby, Bates and Bowdoin. In March 2015, Professeor Belkaïd organized the visit of Algerian-born filmmaker, actor and writer Lyes Salem to the three colleges to screen and discuss his new feature film, L’Orannais (The Man from Oran, 2014), which had premiered only months earlier in France. Later in April, she brought her brother, Akram Belkaïd—author, journalist for the Monde Diplomatique, and expert on politics in the Arab world—to all three campuses to discuss “The Arab Spring: Ten Years After.”

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