French Center of Excellence (Centre d'Excellence)

The Center of Excellence, housed at the Cogut Institute for the Humanities, aims to integrate, support, and promote research and teaching connected with France. For each academic year, the Center invites project proposals that meet one or more of the goals specified by the Embassy of France: enhancing the status of France within European Union studies, promoting France-US relations through interdisciplinary teaching programs, encouraging public-private and research partnerships with France, and innovating in the realm of outreach activities to encourage student interest in France.


The Center is led by Ourida Mostefai, Professor of Comparative Literature and French Studies.  

Governing Board
  • Amanda Anderson, Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Humanities and English and Director of the Cogut Institute for the Humanities (ex-officio)
  • Mark M. Blyth, Eastman Professor of Political Economy, Professor of International and Public Affairs, and Professor of Political Science 
  • Sheila Bonde, Professor of History of Art and Architecture, Chair of History of Art and Architecture, and Professor of Archaeology and the Ancient World
  • Maud Mandel, Dean of the College and Professor of History and Judaic Studies
  • Ourida Mostefai, Professor of Comparative Literature and Professor of French Studies 
  • Marc Redfield, Professor of Comparative Literature and Professor of English
  • Neil F. Safier, Beatrice and Julio Mario Santo Domingo Director and Librarian of the John Carter Brown Library and Associate Professor of History
  • Cole Swensen, Chair of the Department of Literary Arts and Professor of Literary Arts
Call for proposals

Each year, the French Embassy invites the Centers of Excellence to submit a project for consideration as part of its annual grant competition. The governing board of the French Center of Excellence at Brown invites ideas for a future proposal that the Center may submit to the Embassy. The proposed theme for 2018 is Paysages: toward an artistic understanding of the environment. See the 2018 call for projects >


In 2017, the Center sponsored an inaugural conference on Islam and the French: Religion and Laïcité in the Public Sphere that investigated the emergence of a new public visibility of Islam in the West and the anxieties it is generating. Speakers included John Bowen (Washington University), Ian Coller (University of California – Irvine), Naomi Davidson (University of Ottawa), Mayanthi Fernando (University of California – Santa Cruz), Ethan Katz (University of Cincinnati), and Nadia Marzouki (École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales).

Questions? Please contact