Youna Kwak

Lossett Visiting Assistant Professor, Creative Writing
Modern Languages and Literatures

Photo of Youna Kwak


Ph.D., French, New York University,
New York, NY

M.A., French Literature, New York University,
New York, NY

M.F.A., Poetry, University of Montana,
Missoula, MT

B.A., French; Modern Culture and Media,
Brown University, Providence, RI


Hall of Letters
P: 909.748.8572

Meet Professor Kwak

My research focuses on 20th-21st-century French and Francophone literature, poetry, autobiographical writing, feminist theory and critical theory. Before earning a Ph.D. in French, I worked as a documentary and fiction film editor. My filmmaking experience, as well as my work in creative writing and literary translation, informs much of my writing and research, which is multidisciplinary and generically hybrid, at the interstices of the personal and the theoretical.

Areas of Expertise

  • 20th-21st C French/Francophone Literature and Film
  • Poetry
  • Gender Studies
  • Feminist Theory
  • Literary Translation

Visit personal website

Courses Taught

Creative Writing

  • Poetry Workshop, Introductory and Intermediate
  • Nonfiction Workshop, Introductory
  • Advanced Seminar: Autobiographical Forms
  • Advanced Seminar: Translation Poetics and Theory
  • “The Artist Is In”: Contemporary Artists’ Writings


  • French language, Introductory, Intermediate and Advanced
  • French and Francophone Autobiographical Writing
  • Identities on Film in the French and Francophone World
  • French and Francophone Literature of Exile


  • On Belonging
  • Living Together
  • Viral: Pandemic Literature and Cinema

First-year Seminar

  • The Story of My Life: Autobiography in Literature and Film
  • First-Year Seminar: Revolt! Student Protests from 1968 to 2019


Selected Guest Lectures

Roland Barthes par Roland Barthes, l’épistémologie de l’intime.” French and Francophone Studies Department, 26 Oct. 2021, Vassar College.

Poetry reading and lecture. Graduate Poetry Workshop, Department of English, 22 Mar. 2021, Illinois State University.

Poetry reading and lecture. MFA Workshop, English Department, 4 Sep. 2020, California State University, San Bernardino.

Poetry reading and lecture, Poetry Writing Workshop, Department of English, 3 Apr. 2018, Ursinus College.

Vita Nova: Barthes’s Open Secrets.” Department of French, 31 Apr. 2017, Amherst College.

Selected Conference Presentations

“‘Je n’ai rien eu’: The vanishing of Inès Cagnati.” Margins: Voices and Pathways, Women in French Conference, 12-14 May 2022, virtual.

“Cloister, Care, Confinement.” Women and the Invisible Labor of Care, Northeast Modern Language Association Convention, 10-13 March 2022, Baltimore, MD.

The Sequestered Woman: Self-care, Idiolects, and Autonomous Bodies.” Gendered Confinement, Pacific Ancient and Modern Language Association Conference, 11-14 Nov. 2021, Las Vegas, NV. Roundtable organizer.

“Bad Objects: What Does it Mean to Be Bad?” American Comparative Literature Association Annual Meeting, 8-11 Apr. 2021, virtual. Seminar co-organizer.

“Revisiting Georges Perec’s Ellis Island.” The New Normal? 20th/21st-C French and Francophone Studies Colloquium, 10-13 Mar. 2021, virtual. Panel co-organizer.

“The Third Language: Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s Dictée.” Translingualism in Contemporary Women’s Writing Conference, 30-1 May 2019, University of London, England.

“Untranslatables: Louis Wolfson’s Le Schizo et les langues.” Hudson Valley Passages Inaugural Conference, 23-6 May 2019, Hudson Valley, NY. Conference co-organizer.

“The Politics of Disclosure.” ACLA Annual Meeting, 7-10 Mar 2019, Georgetown University. Seminar co-organizer.

“The Second-Second Language: Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s Dictee.” Writing in the Adopted Country, Rocky Mountain MLA Convention, 4-6 Oct 2018, Cheyenne, WY.

“Our Bodies, Our Streets: Black Lives Matter and Imagining the New Life.” Les pavés qui parlent, 20th/21st-C French and Francophone Studies Colloquium, 12-14 Apr. 2018, Brown University. Panel Chair.

“Naming the Imaginary Space.” ACLA Annual Meeting, 29 Mar.-1 Apr. 2018, University of California, Los Angeles. Seminar co-organizer.

“Love in the Time of Surveillance.” Race and the Ephemeral Archive: Race and Creative Writing Conference, 19-21 Oct. 2017, University of AZ Poetry Center. Panel Chair.

“‘Je n’imagine pas’: Seoul, Germany / Bochum, Korea.” Mémoire et histoires dans l’œuvre récente d’Hélène Cixous, 11-13 May 2017, Université d’Anvers, Belgium.

“Belonging: Distance, Longing, ‘My’ Life.” Sense and the Senses, 20th/21st-C French and Francophone Studies Colloquium, 6-9 Apr. 2017, University of Indiana-Bloomington.