Venita Datta

Professor of French and Francophone Studies

Specialist of French cultural and intellectual history.

A specialist of nineteenth- and twentieth-century French cultural and intellectual history, Vinni Datta is interested in the relationship of politics and culture, particularly in the formation of national identity. She is the author of Heroes and legends of Fin-de-Siècle France: Gender, Politics and National Identity (2011) and Birth of a National Icon: The Literary Avant-Garde and the Origins of the Intellectual in France (1999). She has recently begun work on a new book project on French images of Americans and the United States in Belle-Epoque France. Professor Datta teaches a variety of courses in cultural history, among them French 332, “Myth and Memory in Modern France,” French 349, “La Belle Epoque,” French 229, “America Through French Eyes: Perspectives and Realities;” and French 207, the introductory course in French Cultural Studies. Professor Datta is a past president of the Western Society for French History (2001) and is currently the co-Editor of the H-France Forum and a member of the editorial board of French Historical Studies.


  • A.B., Bryn Mawr College
  • M.A., New York University
  • Ph.D., New York University

Current and upcoming courses

  • In this introduction to French society and culture, we will examine France's identity crisis in the twenty-first century. From its historical position of political, economic, and intellectual leadership in Europe and the world, France is searching to maintain its difference as a defender of quality over mass appeal and the proud values of its national tradition in the face of increasing globalization. Topics covered include Franco-American relations, the European Union, immigration, the family, and the role of women in French society. Readings are drawn from a variety of sources: historical, sociological, and ethnographic. Magazine and newspaper articles along with television programs and films will provide supplementary information.