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Deborah Jenson, Professor of Romance Studies and Global Health

Deborah Jenson

My most recent books are a literary history of the Haitian Revolution, called "Beyond the Slave Narrative" (Liverpool UP 2011, paperback 2012, ebook 2013) and a volume on the global legacies of psychoanalysis: "Unconscious Dominions: Psychoanalysis, Colonial Trauma, and Global Sovereignties" (with Warwick Anderson and Richard Keller, Duke UP 2011). A volume of the poetry of Haitian Independence, co-edited with Doris Kadish and translated by Norman Shapiro, is forthcoming from Yale UP. Earlier work includes "Trauma and Its Representations" (Johns Hopkins UP 2001), "Sarah (A Colonial Novella" (with Kadish, MLA 2008) and "The Haiti Issue" of Yale French Studies (2005). I am finalizing a book of essays, "Mimesis: from Marx to Mirror Neurons," and "Flaubert's Brain: Modern French and Francophone Literary Encounters with Cognition." I direct the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, co-direct (with Laurent Dubois) the Haiti Lab, co-direct (with Scott Huettel) the "Brain & Society" theme of Bass Connections, and co-direct (with David Bell) Duke Neurohumanities in Paris. Secondary Appointment: Duke Global Health Institute (DGHI) Faculty Affiliate: Duke Institute for Brain Sciences (DIBS)

Contact Info:
Office Location:  112 Languages Building
Office Phone:  (919) 660-3122
Email Address: send me a message

Office Hours:

Office hours by appointment; please email

PhDHarvard University1994
Research Interests: French and Haitian Studies; Creole/Kreyòl; Global Health; "Neurohumanities"

Current projects: Neuroscience and poetics, Haitian Ethnopsychiatry, Trauma and Timing, Flaubert and Epilepsy, Antenor Firmin and Neuroscience

I take the broad mandate of the humanist very seriously: my research is diverse. In the field of neuroscience and the humanities, my work includes an article on mirror neurons and literary bio-mimesis with neuropsychiatrist Marco Iacoboni, a course called "Flaubert's Brain: Neurohumanities," and several projects related to traumatic stress, cognition, and culture. In the arena of Global Health and the History of Medicine, we are working with Haiti Lab students on topics ranging from the history of cholera in Haiti and the Caribbean (see our article and digital map in Emerging Infectious Diseases, 2011) to the history of anthropological psychiatry in Haiti, to post-disaster mental health. I am also researching slaves' African ethnic identities in 18th century Saint-Domingue through study of ads for runaway slaves.


Secondary Appointment, Duke Global Health Institute (DGHI) Faculty Affiliate, the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences (DIBS) Director, Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CLACS) Co-Director, Haiti Lab Co-Director, Brain & Society, Bass Connections Co-Director, Duke Neurohumanities in Paris

Representative Publications   (More Publications)

  1. Deborah Jenson, Neuroscience and the Poetics of the Haitian Declaration of Independence, edited by Julia Gaffield (Accepted, 2014)
  2. Doris Kadish and Deborah Jenson, translated by Normal Shapiro, Poetry of the Haitian Independence (2014), Yale University Press
  3. Deborah Jenson, Marco Iacoboni, Literary Biomimesis: Mirror Neurons and the Ontological Priority of Representation, California Italian Studies (2011) [3sc3j6dj]
  4. D. Jenson, V. Szabo, and the Haiti Lab Student Research Team, Cholera in Haiti and Other Caribbean Regions, 19th Century, Emerging Infectious Diseases, vol. 17 no. 11 (November, 2011), pp. 6, Centers for Disease Control [eid1711.110958]
  5. Deborah Jenson, Beyond the Slave Narrative: Politics, Sex, and Manuscripts in the Haitian Revolution (2011; paperback 2012), pp. 322, Liverpool University Press
  6. Deborah Jenson (with Warwick Anderson and Richard E. Keller), Unconscious Dominions: Psychoanalysis, Colonial Trauma, and Global Sovereignties (2011), pp. 328, Duke University Press
  7. Deborah Jenson, Kidnapped narratives: Mobility without Autonomy and the Nation/Novel Analogy, in A Companion to Comparative Literature, edited by Ali Behdad and Dominic Thomas (2011), Blackwell Press
  8. Deborah Jenson, The Common Without Copies, the International Without Cosmopolitanism: Marx Against the Romanticism of Likeness, Rethinking Marxism, vol. 22 no. 3 (2010), pp. 420-433
  9. Deborah Jenson, Hegel and Dessalines: Philosophy and the African Diaspora, New West Indian Guide, vol. 84 no. 3 & 4 (2010), pp. 4-9
  10. Deborah Jenson, Dessalines's American Proclamations of the Haitian Independence, The Journal of Haitian Studies, vol. Vol. 15 no. No. 1 and 2 (2010), pp. 72-102  [abs]
  11. Deborah Jenson, The Writing of Disaster in Haiti: Signifying Cataclysm from Slave Revolution to Earth Quake, in Haiti Rising, edited by Martin Munro (2010), pp. 103-112, Liverpool University Press [publication.asp]
  12. Deborah Jenson and Doris Kadish, Sarah, An English Translation (2008), MLA Editions
  13. Deborah Jenson, Francophone World Literature (Littérature-monde) Cosmopolitanism, and Decadence: ‘Citizen of the World’ without the Citizen?, in Transnational French Studies: Postcolonialism and Littérature-monde, edited by Alec Hargreaves (2010), pp. 15-35, Liverpool University Press [publication.asp]
  14. Deborah Jenson, Toussaint Louverture, Spin Doctor? Launching the Haitian Revolution in the French Media, in Tree of Liberty: Legacies of the Haitian Revolution in the Atlantic World (2008), pp. 41-62, University of Virginia Press
  15. Deborah Jenson, Before Malcolm X, Dessalines: A ‘French’ Tradition of Black Atlantic Radicalism, edited by Alec Hargreaves and Jean-Marc Mourra, International Journal of Francophone Studies, vol. 10 no. 3 (2007), pp. 329-342 [ijfs.10.3.329_1]
  16. Deborah Jenson, Fétichisme de la marchandise: la poésie des courtisanes noires ou de couleur à Saint-Domingue, in Relire l’histoire et la littérature haïtiennes, edited by Christiane Ndiaye (2007), pp. 27-56, Presses nationales d'Haïti
  17. Deborah Jenson, Myth, History, and Witnessing in Marceline Desbordes-Valmore’s Caribbean Poetics, edited by Adrianna Paliyenko, L'Esprit Créateur, vol. 47 no. 4 (2007), pp. 329-343 [html]
  18. Deborah Jenson, The Haiti Issue, Yale French Studies, vol. 107 (2005)
  19. Deborah Jenson, Trauma and Its Representations: The Social Life of Mimesis in Post-Revolutionary France (2001), pp. 294, Johns Hopkins UP
Conferences Organized

  • 3rd Annual Romance Studies Undergraduate Research Conference, Director, March, 2013  
  • Selection Committee, Nineteenth-Century French Studies Conference, December 2012  
  • "'Old' Worlds, 'New' Worlds, Future Worlds" Romance Studies Undergraduate Research Conference, Orgaanizer, March, 2012  
  • Selection Committee, NIneteenth-Century French Studies Conference, 2011  
  • Haiti Lab Workshop, "Unveiling the Colonial System": The Baron de Vastey and the Henry Christophe Regime, Co-Organizer, December, 2011  
  • PFIRST Workshop, "Discourses of Trauma in Haiti" (Co-Organizer), November, 2011  
  • States of Freedom, Freedom of States, Co-Organizer (with Michaeline Crichlow (Duke, Sociology and AAAS, Patricia Northover (UWI, SALISES), Matthew Smith (UWI, History, Faculty of the Human, June 18-19, 2010  

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