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Alison Joan Murray Levine

Professor and Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs

Office Address

341 New Cabell Hall

Spring 2023 Student Hours:

TR 1-2 PM, NCH 341.


Alison Levine is a native of Charlottesville, Virginia. She studied French at Haverford and Bryn Mawr Colleges in Philadelphia and received her PhD in French studies from the University of Virginia. She lived in France for five years (Aix-en-Provence, Paris, Gigondas, Vaison-la-Romaine). Prior to joining the faculty at the University of Virginia, she taught at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and Colby College. Her extracurricular interests include farming, mountain hiking, photography, and horseback riding.


  • Bachelor of Arts (BA), Haverford College, 1989
  • Master of Arts (MA), Bryn Mawr College, 1991
  • Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), University of Virginia, 1998

Research Interests

My scholarship spans the fields of twentieth and 21st century French cultural history and film studies. I am particularly interested in documentary cinema. Questions of French national identity, including changing attitudes towards the place of rural, colonial, and postcolonial spaces and people, were at the heart of my first book project, Framing the Nation: Documentary Film in Interwar France. Translated into French as L’oeil de la nation: le film documentaire dans la France de l’entre-deux-guerres, this book relies on research in film and manuscript archives to tell the story of public and private actors in France between the two world wars who were making use of documentary film in various ways. The book examines the contribution of documentary films and programs to the portrayal of regional and colonial cultures within broader discourses about the French nation. My second book, Vivre Ici, explores questions of space, place, and viewer experience in contemporary French documentaries. These films depict life in French places such as wilderness, roads, schools, farms, and urban edgelands, and rather than presenting an informational or didactic approach, they instead invite the viewer to experience these places alongside the humans and animals who inhabit them. Other articles and book chapters explore topics such as orality, the politics of food, and propaganda in French and Francophone documentary and fiction film, as well as questions of French colonial history and colonial tourism.

Selected honors/awards

  • All-University Teaching Award, 2012
  • NEH Distinguished Teaching Professor, 2012-15
  • UVA College Fellow, 2018-2021

Selected Publications


Vivre Ici: Space, Place and Experience in Contemporary French Documentary. Liverpool University Press, 2018.  

Framing the Nation: Documentary Film in Interwar France. Continuum, 2010.  

L’oeil de la nation: le cinéma documentaire dans la France de l’entre-deux-guerres. Trans. Eglantine Morvant and Jean-Luc Lioult. Presses Universitaires de Provence, 2013.  

Articles and book chapters

"Animal products: Livestock farming and ecological citizenship in French Political Documentary." Special issue of Modern and Contemporary France 28:2. 2020.

“Depth of Field: Farmland and Farm Life in Contemporary French Documentary.” In France in Flux: Topography, Territory and Contemporary Culture. Ed. Ari J. Blatt and Edward Welch. Liverpool University Press. 2019.

2018 “Region, Colony, and Nation in French Documentary Films, 1920-1950.” Forthcoming in The French Cinema Book. Ed. Michael Witt and Michael Temple. British Film Institute. 127-33.             

2015 “Film, Propaganda, and Politics: La France est un empire 1939-1943.” Contemporary French Civilization 40:1. 71-90.  

2015 “Documentary Film: A French Renaissance, 1992-2012.” In A Companion to Contemporary French Cinema. Ed. Alistair Fox et. al. Blackwell. 356-375.               

2015 “Teaching Film and Filmmaking in a Second Language.” In Looking and Learning: Visual Literacy across the Disciplines, a special issue of New Directions in Teaching and Learning. Ed. Deandra Little et. al. Wiley-Blackwell. 67-75.               

2014 “Bread on the Table: Documentary Film and The Future of French Food.” Invited submission, Studies in French Cinema 14:3. 180-194.               

2013 “La France est un empire.” In Directory of World Cinema. Ed. Tim Palmer. Intellect Press. 43-5.               

2013 “La Croisière noire.” In Directory of World Cinema. Ed. Tim Palmer. Intellect Press. 41-3.      

2012 “Words on Trial: Oral Performance in Abderrahmane Sissako’s Bamako.Studies in French Cinema 12:2. 151-167.

2011 “Provoking Situations: Abderrahmane Sissako’s Documentary Fiction.” Journal of African Cinemas 3:1. 93-107.               

2011 “Indochine.Fiction and Film for French Historians: A Cultural Bulletin. H-France, Vol. 1, Issue 4.               

2009 “Ghosts on the Skyline: Chris Marker’s France after 9/11.” In From Solidarity to Schisms: 9/11 and After in Fiction and Film from Outside the US. Ed. Cara C. Cilano. Rodopi. 145-63.              

2009 “L’automobile, le cinéma et l’Afrique: un tourisme illusoire?” In Le tourisme dans les colonies (XIXè-XXè): un outil de domination coloniale? Ed. Colette Zytnicki. Société française d’histoire d’outre-mer. 181-191.      

2008 “Mapping Beur Cinema in the New Milennium.” Journal of Film and Video 60:3-4 (Fall/Winter). 42-59.              

2005 “Film and Colonial Memory: La Croisière noire, 1924-2004.” In Memory, Empire and Postcolonialism: Legacies of French Colonialism. Ed. Alec Hargreaves. Lexington Books. 81-97.              

2004 “Cinéma, propagande agricole, et populations rurales en France (1919-1939).” Vingtième Siècle 83. 21-38.              

2004 “Projections of Rural Life: The Agricultural Film Initiative in France.” Cinema Journal 43:4. 76-95.              

2003 “Film as National Icon: Claude Berri’s Germinal.French Review 76:5. 906-16.              

2002 “Women, Nostalgia, Memory: Chocolat, Outremer, Indochine.Research in African Literatures 33:2. 235-44.              

2001 “Teaching Colonial History through Film.” French Historical Studies 25:1. 41-52.              

2000 “Le Tourisme au Sahara: Citroën et le projet CITRACIT, 1924-25.” Vingtième Siècle 68. 95-107.

Book Reviews

2015 Review of Hannah Feldman, From a Nation Torn: Decolonizing Art and Representation in France, 1945-1962 (Duke University Press: 2014) in Contemporary French Civilization 40:3. 409-11.          

2014 Review of Ben McCann, Ripping Open the Set: French Film Design, 1930-1939 (Peter Lang: 2013) in H-France Book Reviews vol. 14. 1-3.

Published translation

2018 “Technology in the 1890-1920 period.” Invited English translation of article by Laurent Mannoni. The French Cinema Book. Ed. Michael Witt and Michael Temple. British Film Institute. 21-27.

Representative Courses

Graduate Courses

  • Cinéma, mémoire, histoire
  • Documentary Theory and Practice
  • Contemporary French Cinema
  • Regards croisés: France and its Empire in Film
  • Formes cinématographiques de l'histoire
  • The Modern French Imperial Imagination

Undergraduate Courses

  • Finding Your Voice in French
  • Digital Storytelling Workshop
  • Reel Life Stories
  • Masterpieces of French Cinema (taught both in French and in English)
  • Modern Paris
  • Contemporary France
  • Contemporary France in Film and Media